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Nicholas Allott considers how relevance theory can be seen as responding to doubts about the possibility of any kind of systematic pragmatic theory. He considers three sceptical positions: Fodor’s argument that pragmatic processes are not amenable to scientific study because they are unencapsulated (highly context-sensitive), Chomsky’s claim that human intentional action is a mystery rather than a scientifically tractable problem, and a third view which maintains that intentional communication is too complex for systematic study. Allott argues that work in relevance theory can be seen as successfully challenging these sceptical views and he gives concrete examples of its achievements.
Anne Reboul makes a significant new contribution to relevance-theoretic discussions of the phenomenon of ‘free indirect discourse’, by developing a pragmatic account of the appropriate use and interpretation of pronouns in this special kind of discourse (which typically occurs in literary texts). She first reviews current semantic accounts of pronouns in this kind of discourse and finds that they have problems with certain non-transparent referential uses of pronouns and their presuppositions. Her alternative account, which employs the relevance-theoretic notion of pragmatic enrichment together with the account of singular concepts developed within Francois Recanati’s mental files framework, avoids the problems of the semantic accounts.
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