- Domaneschi F., M. Vignolo (2019) “Reference and the ambiguity of truth-value judgments”, Mind & Language, xxx, pp. xx-xx. [link]
Martí (2009) argued that referential intuitions are not the right kind of empirical evidence in experimental semantics. She maintained that experimentalists ought to test how people use names instead of what people think about reference. Machery, Olivola and De Blanc (2009) – MOD – replied with a survey aimed at providing evidence that referential intuitions are in sync with truth-value judgments and argued that truth-value judgments provide empirical data from linguistic usage. We present the results of a survey indicating that MOD’s experiment is vitiated by an ambiguity that affects the way participants understand the truth predicate. We conclude that MOD’s experiment fails to overcome Martí’s objection: the truth-value judgements tested by MOD do not provide data relevant for testing theories of reference. It is important to get this point clear. First, testing truth-value judgements is so far one of the main methods that have been employed for testing theories of reference against linguistic usage. Second, if MOD’s experiment were reliable, i.e. if it were not affected by the ambiguity we detected, then it would undermine Krikpe’s ignorance and error argument against classical descriptivism. This point has been surprisingly ignored by commentators.
- Domaneschi F., M. Vignolo, S. Di Paola (2017) “Testing the Causal Theory of Reference”, Cognition, 161, pp. 1-9. [link]
Theories of reference are a crucial research topic in analytic philosophy. Since the publication of Kripke's Naming and Necessity, most philosophers have endorsed the causal/historical theory of reference. The goal of this paper is twofold: (i) to discuss a method for testing experimentally the causal theory of reference for proper names by investigating linguistic usage and (ii) to present the results from two experiments conducted with that method. Data collected in our experiments confirm the causal theory of reference for people proper names and for geographical proper names. A secondary but interesting result is that the semantic domain affects reference assignment: while with people proper names speakers tend to assign the semantic reference, with geographical proper names they are prompted to assign the speaker's reference.
- Domaneschi F., Carrea E., Penco C., Greco A. (2014) “The cognitive load of presupposition triggers. Mandatory and optional repairs in presupposition failure”, Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 29 (1), pp. 136-146. [link]
If a speaker utters a sentence p containing a presupposition trigger that activates a presupposition q, and q does not belong to the common ground of presuppositions, it is a case of presupposition failure. If this occurs, speakers are required to repair the failure to make sense of the utterance. According to Glanzberg, two subcategories of being infelicitous may emerge in the case of presupposition failure: one is that strong presuppositions lead to obligatory repair, and the other is that weak presuppositions lead only to an optional repair. Following Glanzberg's suggestion, in this paper we present the results of an experiment supporting the idea that, depending on the kind of trigger, processing the information conveyed by a presupposition can be either optional or mandatory in case of presupposition failure. The conclusion of this paper is that the cognitive demands of different presupposition triggers do not primarily depend on whether they optionally or obligatorily lead to process the presuppositions activated. Rather, their cognitive demands seem to be related with the complexity of the mental representation of the presupposition required.
- Domaneschi F., Canal P., Masia V., Vallauri Lombardi E., Bambini V. (2018) “N400 and P600 modulation in presupposition accommodation: the effect of different trigger types”, Journal of Neurolinguistics, 45, 13-35. [link]
This study investigates the neurophysiological correlates of presupposition processing in conditions of satisfaction and accommodation, comparing two types of triggers: definite descriptions and change-of-state verbs. Results showed that, for both types, the accommodation of presuppositions is associated with a biphasic N400-P600 pattern at the processing point. With definite descriptions, we observed a more clear involvement of the N400, while for change-of-state verbs the costs of accommodation were associated with a more pronounced P600. Moreover, when conveyed by change of state predicates, presuppositions seem to elicit also a P200 visible already at the trigger verb. The data nicely fit into the Linking-Updating model and support two main conclusions. First, presupposition accommodation is a sequential process unfolding through a biphasic ERP pattern presumably related to search for antecedent and discourse update. Second, the kind of presupposition trigger seems to affect the cognitive cost of presupposition accommodation at different processing times, with definite description capitalizing more on the earlier search for antecedent and change-of-state verbs capitalizing more on the later updating of the discourse mental model with the presupposed information. Overall, our findings suggest that the brain understands information taken for granted by going through a process whose time course involves several phases, differently modulated based on specific linguistic expressions.
- Mazzarella D., Domaneschi F.. (2018) “Presuppositional effects and ostensive-inferential communication”, Journal of Pragmatics, 138, pp. 17-29. [link]
In this paper, we argue that presuppositions fall within the scope of ostensive-inferential communication, and present the benefits of this proposal. On the one hand, by treating presuppositions as part of what is ostensively communicated by the speaker, we can provide a unified account of so-called ‘informative’ presuppositions, and presuppositions that are part of the ‘common ground’. On the other hand, by treating presuppositions as the output of an inferential process of pragmatic interpretation, we can explain their context-sensitivity as well as the way in which their propositional content is constructed through a process of ‘mutual parallel adjustment’ with the explicit content of the utterance and its implicatures.
- Domaneschi F., M. Romero, B. Braun (2017) “Bias in Polar Questions. Evidence from English and German production experiments”, Glossa, 2(1), 23. [link]
Different polar question forms (e.g., Do you / Do you not / Don’t you / Really? Do you... have a car?) are not equally appropriate in all situations. The present experiments investigate which combinations of original speaker belief and contextual evidence influence the choice of question type in English and German. Our results show that both kinds of bias interact: in both languages, positive polar questions are typically selected when there is no original speaker belief and positive or non-informative contextual evidence; low negation questions (Do you not...?) are most frequently chosen when no original belief meets negative contextual evidence; high negation questions (Don’t you...?) are prompted when positive original speaker belief is followed by negative or non-informative contextual evidence; positive questions with really are produced most frequently when a negative original bias is combined with positive contextual evidence. In string-identical forms, there are prosodic differences across crucial conditions.
- Domaneschi F., Vignolo M. (2017) “Referential intuitions are still problematic”, Analysis, 148, pp. 1-12. [link]
In order to uphold the claim that referential intuitions are a reliable source of evidence for theories of reference, Machery et al. (2009) conducted an empirical research by testing truth-value judgments. First, we discuss a conceptual limitation of Machery et al.’s experiment on truth-value judgments. Then, we present the data of an empirical survey that shows that people’s truth-value judgments are not congruent with their use of proper names. We explain why the results of our empirical research refute the conclusions of Machery et al.’s experiment on truth-value judgments. We conclude that referential intuitions are still problematic.
- Domaneschi F., Di Paola S. (2017) “The Processing Costs of Presupposition Accommodation”, Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, pp. 1-21. [link]
The present study investigates the processing of presupposition accommodation. In particular, it concerns the processing costs and the time-course of accommodation as compared to presupposition satisfaction. Data collected in a self-paced word-by-word reading times experiment support three results. First, independently on the presupposition trigger in use, accommodation is costlier than satisfaction. Second, presupposition accommodation takes places immediately just as the trigger becomes available and proceeds incrementally during the sentence processing. Third, accommodated information is harder to be recalled. The results offer evidence for the on-line processing of presuppositions and, consistently with the traditional semantic framework, support the idea that, presuppositions are semantic properties encoded in the lexical meaning of the presupposition triggers.
- Domaneschi F., Di Paola S. (2019), “The Aging Factor in Processing Presuppositions”, Journal of Pragmatics, 140, pp. 70-87. [link]
This work takes a first step towards a psycholinguistic investigation on the role of aging in processing presuppositions. Experimental data collected support two main results. First, in online language comprehension older adults exhibit higher processing costs when presuppositions involve demanding mental representations. Second, the ability to recover information introduced in the discourse as taken for granted is affected by the age factor. Overall, beyond other more explored levels of pragmatic processing, the decline with age of processing speed and working memory ability seems to affect presuppositions processing.
- Domaneschi F., Passarelli M., Andrighetto L. (2018) “Performing orders: Speech acts, Facial Expressions and Gender Bias”, Journal of Cognition and Culture, 18, pp. 360-374. [link]
The business of a sentence is not only to describe some state of affairs but also to perform other kinds of speech acts like ordering, suggesting, asking, etc. Understanding the kind of action performed by a speaker who utters a sentence is a multimodal process which involves the computing of verbal and non-verbal information. This work aims at investigating if the understanding of a speech act is affected by the gender of the actor that produces the utterance in combination with a certain facial expression. Experimental data collected show that, as compared to men, women are less likely to be perceived as performers of orders and are more likely to be perceived as performers of questions. This result reveals a gender bias which reflects a process of women’s subordination according to which women are hardly considered as holding the hierarchical social position required for the correct execution of an order.
- Domaneschi F., Carrea E., Penco C., Greco A. (2014) “Propositional attitudes towards presuppositions. An experimental approach”, Pragmatics and Cognition, 22:3, 291–309. [link]
According to the Common Ground account proposed by Stalnaker (2002, 2009), speakers involved in a verbal interaction have different propositional attitudes towards presuppositions. In this paper we propose an experimental study aimed at estimating the psychological plausibility of the Stalnakerian model. In particular, the goal of our experiment is to evaluate variations in accepting as appropriate a sentence that triggers a presupposition, where different attitudes are taken towards the presupposition required. The study conducted suggests that if a speaker has the attitude of belief towards the content of a presupposition, she may evaluate an utterance as more appropriate in a shorter time than in cases where she holds an attitude of presumption or of assumption. Therefore, data collected support the psychological soundness of what might be considered the main, but also most debated, theory of presupposition on the market.
- Domaneschi F. (2011) “Towards a normative epistemic account of presuppositions”, Journal of Pragmatics, 43, 15, pp. 3822-3831. [link]
In this paper I propose a normative account of pragmatic presupposition as a criticism and enrichment of Gauker's theory. By an appeal to epistemic contextualism, my aim is to integrate Gauker's normative account with an explanation of the different ways in which speakers ought to share presuppositions. In particular, I focus my analysis on some stereotypical situations to show that the epistemic goal of a conversation determines the level of justification of a presupposition. Finally, I claim that coherence with the level of justification is a condition for appropriateness of assertions: in order to appropriately assert a sentence p that requires a presupposition q, speakers should recognize how they ought to be able to justify q in a specific communicative context.
- Domaneschi F., Carrea E., Penco C., Greco A. (2016) “Selecting presuppositions in conditional clauses. Results from a psycholinguistic experiment”, Frontiers in Psychology, 6, pp. 2026-2036. [link]
In this paper, we propose an experiment concerning presupposition selection in conditional sentences containing a presupposition trigger in the consequent. Many theories claim that sentences like if p, qq'—where q is the presupposition of the assertive component q'—have unconditional presuppositions, namely, they simply project q. Other theories suggest that these kinds of conditional sentences project conditional presuppositions of the form if p, q. Data collected suggest two results: (i) in accordance with other experiments (by Romoli), dependence between the presupposition q and the antecedent p favors the selection of a conditional presupposition if p, q. (ii) presupposition selection in conditional sentences with a trigger in the consequent is affected by speakers' cognitive load: if speakers are highly cognitive loaded, then they are less disposed to select a conditional presupposition. We conclude by arguing that cognitive load represents a key factor for the analysis of linguistic and philosophical theories of context.
- Domaneschi F. (2016) “Presuppositions: philosophy, linguistics and psychology”, Topoi, 30(1):5, 5-8.[link]
- Domaneschi F., Di Paola S. (2018), “Relevance and non-factive knowledge attributions”, Acta Analytica, 1-33. [link]
Philosophers and cognitive scientists agree that knowledge requires truth: a cognitive subject S knows a proposition p if and only if p is true. In ordinary language, however, knowledge can sometimes be appropriately attributed under false belief. According to Hazlett (2010), factivity is a myth, know does not entail truth and cases of this sort can be explained as non-factive literal attributions of knowledge. Supporters of the Protagonist Projection Hypothesis (Holton, 1997), conversely, claim that know is factive and knowledge attributions under false belief can be explained as cases of non-literal occurrences of know: speakers project themselves into the perspective of someone else who has a false belief. In this paper we present results from five experiments showing that, in ordinary language, propositions of the form S knows that p can convey three kinds of knowledge attributions, regularly interpreted with three decreasing propositional attitudes depending on the truth-value of the proposition p: (i) S really knows p; (ii) S simply believes p; and (iii) S has just the feeling that p. Our claim is that only the first case constitutes a literal knowledge attribution while the others are best described as non-literal uses. In conclusion, we argue that our results disconfirm the idea that factivity is a myth and support the protagonist projection hypothesis. We propose that non-factive knowledge attributions are better explained as cases of ad hoc concepts construction and, in particular, of approximations based on logical properties.
- Domaneschi F., M. Passarelli, C. Chiorri (2017) “Facial Expressions and Speech Acts. Experimental evidences on the role of the Upper Face as an Illocutionary Force Indicating Device in Language Comprehension”, Cognitive Processing, (18) 3, pp. 285-306. [link]
Language scientists have broadly addressed the problem of explaining how language users recognize the kind of speech act performed by a speaker uttering a sentence in a particular context. They have done so by investigating the role played by the illocutionary force indicating devices (IFIDs), i.e., all linguistic elements that indicate the illocutionary force of an utterance. The present work takes a first step in the direction of an experimental investigation of non-verbal IFIDs because it investigates the role played by facial expressions and, in particular, of upper-face action units (AUs) in the comprehension of three basic types of illocutionary force: assertions, questions, and orders. The results from a pilot experiment on production and two comprehension experiments showed that (1) certain upper-face AUs seem to constitute non-verbal signals that contribute to the understanding of the illocutionary force of questions and orders; (2) assertions are not expected to be marked by any upper-face AU; (3) some upper-face AUs can be associated, with different degrees of compatibility, with both questions and orders.
- Domaneschi., Bambini V. (forth) “Pragmatic Competence”, in Pavese C. & Fridland E. (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Skill and Expertise, Abingdon: Routledge.
Pragmatics is the study of language in context, a field that emerged from the traditions of philosophy of language and linguistics. As such, it is characterized by a theoretical approach based on intuition and the observation of linguistic behaviour. Recently, theoretical investigations have led to an ‘experimental turn’ and the rise of Experimental Pragmatics, where pragmatic phenomena are investigated via behavioural and neurolinguistic methods. These new research programs have largely documented the processes in which pragmatic abilities are acquired and work in typical and atypical conditions. Nowadays, the main challenge of describing pragmatic competence lays in explaining which cognitive functions interact with the processing of different pragmatic phenomena. Since in the Gricean framework pragmatic interpretation involves the inferential attributions of speaker’s intentions, pragmatic processing is typically considered in strict relation with the ability of attributing mental states to others. In this chapter, we focus on figurative language, irony, deixis and presuppositions, four traditional pragmatic phenomena. We argue that language users’ pragmatic competence is not limited to the ability of understanding speaker’s intentions, but has its own characterization in terms of developmental trajectories, patterns of decay, and neural substrates. Moreover, a cluster of cognitive functions support pragmatic processing, in ways that differ across types of pragmatic inference.
- Domaneschi F. (2012) “Presuppositions and appropriateness of assertions”, Lodz Papers in Pragmatics, 7(2), pp. 205-222. [link]
In this paper I aim to compare and evaluate two theoretic approaches to pragmatic presuppositions: the Common Ground account and Propositional Context account. According to the Common Ground account proposed by Stalnaker (2002), it is appropriate to assert a sentence p that requires a presupposition q only if q is mutually believed as accepted as true and taken for granted by the interlocutors. Otherwise, Gauker (2002, 2008) claims that the ground of propositions taken for granted coincides with what he calls the objective propositional context, that is the set of objectively relevant propositional elements that speakers ought to share in order to evaluate the appropriateness of utterances so as to reach the goal of a conversation. The main purpose of my paper is to show that, according to the Propositional Context account, a theory of presupposition has to take into account a normative-objective notion of context. Secondly, I aim to develop a criticism of Gauker's point of view claiming that the Propositional Context account does not account for the number of ways in which a proposition can be taken for granted by the speakers depending on the context. Finally, I propose to integrate Gauker's account with a further condition for appropriateness of assertion which states that: in order to appropriately assert a sentence p that requires a presupposition q, speakers ought to recognize how they should justify q in a specific communicative context.
- Balostro S., Domaneschi F., Frixione F. (2019) “Giudizi deontici e pragmatica nel selection task”, Sistemi Intelligenti, XXXI, 1, pp. 173-188.
Gli individui spesso pensano e agiscono in modo non razionale quando viene chiesto loro di risolvere elementari problemi di ragionamento. Gli errori di ragionamento dipendono non solo dalla forma di un’inferenza ma anche dal suo contenuto. Nel classico test delle quattro carte di Wason, ad esempio, gli individui confondono più facilmente lo schema logico del Modus Tollens con quello della Fallacia dell’affermazione del conseguente quando l’inferenza è presentata in forma astratta, rispetto a quando è dotata di contenuto. Due ulteriori fattori giocano un ruolo determinante: l’errore di ragionamento sembra occorrere meno frequentemente se la premessa condizionale è deontica e se il contenuto del condizionale è pertinente rispetto al contesto. In questo lavoro mostriamo come, manipolando il livello di pertinenza tra antecedente e conseguente di un enunciato condizionale deontico, l’aspettativa di pertinenza che si crea nei soggetti elicita risposte differenti nel test delle quattro carte. I risultati sperimentali evidenziano che, se il livello di pertinenza tra antecedente e conseguente di un condizionale è basso o nullo, i soggetti sono portati a commettere più frequentemente l’errore sistematico di ragionamento rispetto a quando il livello di pertinenza è alto.
- Domaneschi F., (2013) “Pragmatic Presuppositions: a psycholinguistic approach”, Epistemologia, XXXVI, pp. 81-99. [link]
Lo scopo di questo lavoro è valutare due teorie delle presupposizioni pragmatiche: la teoria del Common Ground (CG) e la teoria del Propositional Context (PC). Inizialmente, fornirò argomenti in favore della teoria PC e, in accordo con tale proposta, sosterrò che avere un qualche tipo di atteggiamento proposizionale nei confronti delle presupposizioni non rappresenta una condizione necessaria per valutare il proferimento di un enunciato come appropriato. Dopodiché, presenterò uno studio sperimentale i cui risultati sembrano offrire evidenza del fatto che gli atteggiamenti proposizionali nei confronti delle presupposizioni giochino un ruolo nel processo cognitivo di valutazione di appropriatezza del proferimento di un enunciato. Concluderò sostenendo che il modello normativo del Propositional Context, per essere non solo teoricamente valido ma anche psicologicamente plausibile, dovrebbe essere integrato con l’analisi del ruolo giocato dagli atteggiamenti proposizionali dei parlanti nei confronti delle presupposizioni, distinguendo tra la condizione di appropriatezza e la valutazione di appropriatezza di un enunciato.
- Domaneschi F., Carrea E. (2015) “Istruzioni semantiche di aggiornamento del contesto: gli attivatori presupposizionali”, Sistemi Intelligenti, 2, 303-322. [link]
When a speaker utters a sentence p containing a presupposition trigger that activates a presupposition q, and q does not belong to the common ground of presuppositions, it is a case of presupposition failure. When it occurs, speakers are supposed to repair the failure in order to make sense of the utterance. According to Glanzberg, there are two categories of triggers: those activating strong presuppositions lead to obligatory repair, while triggers generating weak presuppositions simply require an optional repair. In this paper we present a psycholinguistic experiment supporting the idea that, depending on the kind of trigger in use, processing the information conveyed by a presupposition can be either optional or mandatory.
- Domaneschi F. (2013) “Scambi di Sensi e Comprensione Metaforica”, Rivista di Estetica, 53, 2, LIII. [link]
This paper deals with the process involved in understanding metaphors. My aim is to suggest that synaesthetic sentences constitute a controvertial case that partly moderate the conflict between the minimalist point of view and the radical contextualist standpoint. Synaesthetic sentences are constituted by a term that belongs to a perceptual domain which is referred to by a term that corresponds to another perceptual domain (for example “caressing voice”, “dark sound”, or “sweet smell”). In particular, I will defend two claims: first, against radical contextualism, it is possible to maintain the distinction between “what is literal” and “what is metaphorical”. Second, against the minimalist view, the literal meaning of a metaphorical utterance is not necessarily computed as a first step by default.
- Domaneschi F., Bambini V. (2017) “Behavioral and Neural Evidence on Pragmatic Processing”, Frontiers in Psychology, 1. doi: 10.3389/conf.fpsyg.2017.71.00001 [link]
- Domaneschi F., Di Paola S. (2017) “The Aging Factor in Processing Presuppositions”, Frontiers in Psychology, 1. doi: 10.3389/conf.fpsyg.2017.71.00013 [link]
- Domaneschi F., Di Paola S. (2017), “The Cost of Context Repair: Presupposition Accommodation” (with S. Di Paola), CEUR-Proceedings of the Workshop on Contexts in Philosophy – Paris, June, 20, 2017, Vol-1845, urn:nbn:de:0074-1845-7, pp. 36-47. [link]
- Romero M., Arnhold A., Braun B. & Domaneschi F. (2017) “Negative Polar Question Types in English”, NELS 47, Proceedings of the 47th Annual Meeting of North East Linguistic Society, x, pp. xx-xx. [link]
- Domaneschi F., Pistoia-Reda S. (2017)“Theoretical and experimental perspectives on meaning and communication”, in Linguistic and Psycholinguistic Approaches on Implicatures and Presuppositions (eds. with Pistoia-Reda S.), Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, 1-10. [link]
- Domaneschi F., Penco C. (2015) “Semiotics’ internal conflict. The role of pragmatic processing in the constitution of meaning” , It Journal of Philosophy of Language, 9(1), 215-231.[link]
- Domaneschi F., M. Passarelli, C. Chiorri (2017), “Facial Expressions and Speech Acts”, CEUR-Proceedings of the AIC 2016 – Artificial Intelligence and Cognition 2016 – New York City, NY, USA, July 16-17, 2016, Vol-1895, urn:nbn:de:0074-1895-0, pp. 73-80. [link]
- Domaneschi F., Penco C. (2017), “Presupposizioni”, APHEX, Portale Italiano di Filosofia Analitica, 15, pp. 1-63. [link]
- Domaneschi F., Vignolo M. (submitted) “The ambiguity of ‘true’ in truth-value judgments”.
- Balletta S., Domaneschi F. (submitted), “Predication and Cognitive Context: Paving a Middle Path Between Minimalism and Contextualism”.
- Domaneschi F., Vignolo M. (submitted) “Assigning reference to Natural Kind Names and Artifact Names”.
- Di Paola S., Pouscoulous N., Domaneschi F. (submitted), “Metaphorical Developing Minds: The role of multiple factors in the development of metaphor comprehension”.
- Vaccarezza MS., Domaneschi F. (submitted) “Expressing virtue-oriented and talent-oriented admiration. An experimental investigation”.
- Cepollaro B., Stojanovic I., Domaneschi F., (manuscript) “When Is It OK to Refer to People as ‘Bastards’? Pejoratives and the Strong Contextual Felicity Constraint”.