Wrongness and Representational Thought


This paper examines the concept of wrongness as a violation of intention, convention, or fact. We demonstrate that wrongness is an underlying factor in mistakes, jokes, pretense, lying, metaphor, and irony. We argue that children’s use and understanding of wrongness evolves in four steps through a developing understanding of representation. First, children understand that a wrong act can refer to a right act, through mistakes and basic jokes. Second, this leads to understanding that a wrong act can represent a right act, through pretense, puns and metaphor. Third, this leads to understanding mental representation, which in combination with understanding reference allows understanding of intentional jokes and lies. Finally, this leads to understanding mental representation in combination with representation, allowing an understanding of irony, and intentional pretense, metaphor, and puns.

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