27 March 2016

Tracking the Human Mind

Angelika Kratzer writes:

You are all cordially invited to a symposium featuring some of the fellows of the 2015/2016 SIAS (Some Institutes for Advanced Study) Summer Institute. The topic of the symposium is: 

Tracking the Human Mind in Attitude and Speech Reports

Saturday, April 16, 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Integrative Learning Center N400. The symposium will be followed by a reception.

 A detailed program will follow. 

Being one of the most interdisciplinary working groups of the 2015/2016 SIAS Summer Institute, the group on Attitude Ascriptions & Speech Reports, designed two projects that promise to make a positive contribution to the longstanding communication problem between neuroscience and linguistic research. In her dissertation, the neuroscientist in the group, Jorie Koster-Hale, found that epistemic properties of other people’s beliefs are represented via response patterns of neural populations in canonical belief ascription regions in the brain (so-called ‘Theory of Mind’ regions). These properties relate to the kind of evidence that ground a belief: whether it was good evidence or not, or whether it was visual or auditory evidence. Those kinds of properties do not only play a major role in philosophical discussions of knowledge ascriptions, they are also grammaticalized in verbal inflectional paradigms in many lesser-known languages (so-called “evidentials”). In addition, they trigger a significant dichotomy in the class of attitude verbs across languages: verbs in the believe family (believe that, suspect that, conjecture that) can be used to report false beliefs, while verbs in the know family (know that, discover that, reveal that, hear that, see that) cannot - those ‘factive’ verbs can only describe attitudes that are properly connected to reality. The SIAS Attitude Ascription and Speech Report group recognized those fascinating connections and found a common language to construct  joint projects that will bring together their collective expertise in neuroscience, cognitive development, language acquisition, epistemology, theoretical linguistics and semantic typology under headings like ‘factivity/veridicality’ and ‘knowledge first’.  Projects of this kind could become models for collaboration between researchers in the sciences and the humanities.

More info about the 2015/2016 SIAS Summer Institute: http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/sias/index.htm