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Grazer Philosophische Studien

Volume 10, 1980

G. James Jason
Pages 119-139

Notes Toward a Formal Conversation Theory

Dialectic, as commonly approached, is not an analytic study, as the notion is defined in the paper. Where it is analytically approached (as, for example, by Grice and Hamblin), the result is pragmatic in nature, as well as syntactic and semantic. This paper lays the foundations of a purely formal (nonpragmatic) analysis of conversations. This study is accordingly called "Conversation Theory". The key notions of "conversation", "dialogue", "conversation game", "rules of response", "epistemic community" and "channel of informations" are defined precisely, and an analysis of how these notions fit together is given. Particular attention is given to distinguishing conversation theory from standard logic. The paper concludes by analysing a few sample conversation-games, indicating areas needing further research, by pointing out the simplification inherent in the sample games.

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