By Christopher Hart (auth.)
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Additional resources for Critical Discourse Analysis and Cognitive Science: New Perspectives on Immigration Discourse
Cultural environments, of course, include texts. It is precisely this flexibility, then, that is exploited in the discursive construction of social identities and inequalities but which at the same time makes possible their deconstruction through critical linguistic analysis. Social inequality is not caused by evolved modules themselves but, rather, these modules may be utilized in discourse in order to strategically enact social inequality. Laland and Brown make a similar point in relation to war: Biological predispositions such as fear of strangers, aggressiveness, and a tendency to distinguish in and out groups do not cause war.
Theory of mind is the ability to attribute beliefs (including false beliefs), emotions and intentions to others and has an obvious advantage for primates, who live in relatively large-scale social groups. Social inference is the ability to make predictions, in turn, about behaviour in others based on their beliefs, emotions and intentions. Theory of mind and social inference have an additional advantage as together they enable tactical deception. Tactical deception occurs in the behaviour of one individual which is intended to cause a belief in another individual which, it is expected, will lead them to act in a way which serves the interest of the first individual.
Given the communicative principle of relevance, text-producers construct their linguistic representations in such a way that text-consumers can reconstruct the intended conceptual representation with minimum processing effort. And since relevance varies inversely with processing effort, text-consumers follow a path of least effort in reconstructing the text-producer’s intended meaning, which they recognise as first the representation that satisfies expectations of relevance. Wilson and Sperber refer to this process as the ‘relevance-theoretic comprehension procedure’ and maintain that a specially evolved sub-module of the overall mind-reading module is dedicated to this cognitive process (2004: 625).