Main resarch

I consider myself as a cognitive scientist (and a philosopher) who is interested in understanding the cognitive and neural bases of language processing. My research focuses on choosing the 'right' interpretation over the other alternatives. How do our brains interpret the same sentence, "Devils won this week," with respect to 'Manchester United' or 'theological devils'? How does it choose one interpretation over the other(s)? How do our brains figure out the person intended by the speaker by her use of "Jack was here" among the many people named "Jack" whom we are acquainted with?

I am also fascinated by the relation between semantics and pragmatics. I tried to distinguish speaker’s reference from audience’s reference. I argued that if a speaker uses a proper name ambiguously, in order to understand the speaker’s intention the audience has to track down the referent of that proper name intended by the speaker. The audience seems to use a set of guiding rules, which I name ‘the maxims of the audience.’

This line of thought led me to gain a wider understanding of philosophy of language. I believe that grasping the interpretation of the context dependence in linguistic and non-linguistic behavior from the perspectives of philosophy and linguistics will lead us to a clear view of the two sides of the same coin. On the one side, there is representation taking part in processing the given information. On the other side, there is transferring that processed information. A study on this coin, I believe, has crucial applications in interpreting the data. 


Side interests

Curiosity. How do we get curious about something that we do not know? More interestingly, can we wonder about a thing that does not exist? 'What is it like to be in Vulcan? Does it have mountains?' It seems that we can; but how? We gain knowledge about the things by asking questions about them. To ask questions about something, we need to represent them mentally. This representation, for Ilhan Inan, can only be done via definite descriptions. Being curious about the oldest philosopher needs a mental representation of the 'oldest philosopher'. In the case of being curious, one has to form this representation in the form of 'inostensible definite description'. My argument agains Inan is that because we cannot know the thing that we are curious of, we must form this representation in the form 'inostensible indefinite description'.

Ultimate Turing Test.


© 2018 Aliyar Ozercan

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