Rational interaction as the basis for communication

Philip R. Cohen, Hector J. Levesque

Research output: Book/ReportOther ReportResearch


This paper derives the basis of a theory of communication from a formal theory of rational interaction. The major result is a demonstration that illocutionary acts need neither be primitive, nor explicitly recognized. As a test case, we derive Searle's conditions on requesting from principles of rationality coupled with a theory of imperatives. The theory rests on a formal account of intention and distinguishes insincere or nonserious imperatives from true requests. A theory of purposeful communication thus emerges as a consequence of principles of action and interaction.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationToronto Canada
PublisherThe MIT Press
Number of pages38
Publication statusPublished - 21 Apr 1988
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameSRI International
PublisherThe MIT Press

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