Brown bag du 18/06/2018 Christophe Heintz (Central European University, Budapest)



"The co-evolution of epistemic vigilance and ostensive communication"

Ostension, the behaviour that consists in making one’s informative
intention mutually manifest, has beneficial effects for humans because
it is an efficient means to manipulate conspecifics’ mental states.
Ostension could evolve only because of this beneficial effect, which
is itself a consequence of conspecifics presuming relevance when an
informative intention is mutually manifest. However, this presumption
is reliable, and thus adaptive, only in a sufficiently cooperative
context. This context resulted from cheating (and lying) being
sufficiently kept at bay by socially and epistemically vigilant
ancestors. In this talk, I will specify my evolutionary hypotheses,
eventually concluding that the presumption of relevance is a mechanism
that evolved as a stabilized positive prior of epistemic vigilance. If
times allow, I will contrast my account with Anne Reboul’s ideas on
the evolution of implicit communication.