• Believing in: a pragmatic account

      Žegarac, Vladimir (Elsevier, 2006-09-22)
      The gap between the linguistic meaning of an utterance and the proposition it expresses in a particular context is bridged by a pragmatic inferential process with free access to general world knowledge. Therefore, pragmatic theory should be able to characterize the inputs to this inference process in a way which provides the basis for explaining why a particular linguistic expression has some contextual interpretations to the exclusion of others. The main aim of this paper is to consider how Relevance Theory (Sperber and Wilson, 1986/1995) rises to this challenge in one particular case: utterances of sentences containing the phrase believe in. I try to show how the various interpretations of this expression follow from the interaction of its linguistic meaning with the Communicative Principle of Relevance, the context, and two general cognitive tendencies in context selection: the orientation towards positive outcomes and the orientation towards establishing cause-effect relations.