The Grice Club

Welcome

The Grice Club

The club for all those whose members have no (other) club.

Is Grice the greatest philosopher that ever lived?

Search This Blog

Monday, April 16, 2018

Washington Röbling’s Implicature

Speranza

The trustees are considering naming the Washington Roebling chief engineer.

TRUSTEE: 

You have never supervised anything of this scale and magnitude, Roebling, is that right?

ROEBLING: No one has.

H. P. Grice considers this in his Oxford lectures on conversational implicature (yes, he was using that phrase, 'conversational implicature' back then -- BEFORE Harvard).

Surely, Washington Roebling is being more informative than is required.

The implicature is:

Tricky!

Trustee: 

You have never supervised anything of this scale and magnitude, Roebling, is that right?

ROEBLING: 

No one has.

Roebling's

(i) No one has.

ENTAILS an affirmative answer to the question, to wit:

(ii) Washington Roebling has never supervised anything of this scale and magnitude.

Or strictly:

(iii) Yes, that is right: Washington Roebling has never supervised anything of this scale and magnitude.

By uttering something slightly more informative, "in fact, no one has" IMPLICATES something. 

What?

(iv) Neither have you!

Or more polite:

(v) Why do you axe?

Tricky!

The greatest implicature is that Washington is a Griceian at heart.

Washington Röbling’s Implicature

Speranza

The trustees are considering naming the Washington Roebling chief engineer.

TRUSTEE: 

You have never supervised anything of this scale and magnitude, Roebling, is that right?

ROEBLING: No one has.

H. P. Grice considers this in his Oxford lectures on conversational implicature (yes, he was using that phrase, 'conversational implicature' back then -- BEFORE Harvard).

Surely, Washington Roebling is being more informative than is required.

The implicature is:

Tricky!


Washington Röbling’s Implicature



Speranza

The trustees are considering naming the Washington Roebling chief engineer.


TRUSTEE: You’ve never supervised anything of this scale and magnitude, Roebling, is that right?

ROEBLING: No one has.

H. P. Grice & J. L. Speranza, "The implicatures of deixis"

Speranza

It is commonly held that retraction data, if we accept them, show that assessment relativism is to be preferred over non-indexical relativism (a.k.a. non-indexical contextualism). I will argue that this is not the case. Whether retraction data have the suggested probative force depends on substantive questions about the proper treatment of tense and location. One’s preferred account in these domains should determine which form of relativism one prefers.

H. P. Grice & J. L. Speranza, "The implicatures of deixis"

Speranza

It is commonly held that retraction data, if we accept them, show that assessment relativism is to be preferred over non-indexical relativism (a.k.a. non-indexical contextualism). I will argue that this is not the case. Whether retraction data have the suggested probative force depends on substantive questions about the proper treatment of tense and location. One’s preferred account in these domains should determine which form of relativism one prefers.

The grice and the hope -- H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza

Speranza

Hope, in its propositional construction "I hope that p," is compatible with a stated chance for the speaker that not-p. On fallibilist construals of knowledge, knowledge is compatible with a chance of being wrong, such that one can know that p even though there is an epistemic chance for one that not-p. But self-ascriptions of propositional hope that p seem to be incompatible, in some sense, with self-ascriptions of knowing whether p. Data from conjoining hope self-ascription with outright assertions, with first- and third-person knowledge ascriptions, and with factive predicates suggest a problem: when combined with a plausible principle on the rationality of hope, they suggest that fallibilism is false. By contrast, the infallibilist about knowledge can straightforwardly explain why knowledge would be incompatible with hope, and can offer a simple and unified explanation of all the linguistic data introduced here. This suggests that fallibilists bear an explanatory burden which has been hitherto overlooked.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, "Moore's paradox -- the disimplicatures"

Speranza

Moore’s paradox, the infamous felt bizarreness of sincerely uttering something of the form “I believe grass is green, but it ain’t”—has attracted a lot of attention since its original discovery (Moore 1942). It is often taken to be a paradox of belief—in the sense that the locus of the inconsistency is the beliefs of someone who so sincerely utters. This claim has been labeled as the priority thesis: If you have an explanation of why a putative content could not be coherently believed, you thereby have an explanation of why it cannot be coherently asserted. (Shoemaker 1995). The priority thesis, however, is insufficient to give a general explanation of Moore-paradoxical phenomena and, moreover, it’s false. I demonstrate this, then show how to give a commitment-theoretic account of Moore Paradoxicality, drawing on work by Bach and Harnish. The resulting account has the virtue of explaining not only cases of pragmatic incoherence involving assertions, but also cases of cognate incoherence arising for other speech acts, such as promising, guaranteeing, ordering, and the like.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, "The truth-value gap"

Speranza

According to the plurivaluationist, our vague discourse doesn’t have a single meaning. Instead, it has many meanings, each of which is precise—and it is this plurality of meanings that is the source of vagueness. I believe plurivaluationist positions are underdeveloped and for this reason unpopular. This paper attempts to correct this situation by offering a particular development of plurivaluationism that I call supersententialism. The supersententialist leverages lessons from another area of research—the Problem of the Many—in service of the plurivaluationist position. The Problem reveals theoretical reasons to accept that there are many cats where we thought there was one; the supersententialist claims that we are in a similar situation with respect to languages, propositions and sentences. I argue that the parallel suggested by the supersententialist reveals unappreciated advantages and lines of defense for plurivaluationism.

H. P. Grice & J. L. Speranza, "He is an Englishman; he is, therefore, brave"

Speranza

We argue that generic generalizations about racial groups are pernicious in what they communicate (both to members of that racial group and to members of other racial groups), and may be central to the construction of social categories like racial groups. We then consider how we should change and challenge uses of generic generalizations about racial groups.

H. P. Grice & J. L. Speranza, Disimplicature & Beyond

Speranza

In this paper we discuss the extent to which conjunction and disjunction can be rightfully regarded as such, in the context of infectious logics. Infectious logics are peculiar many-valued logics whose underlying algebra has an absorbing or infectious element, which is assigned to a compound formula whenever it is assigned to one of its components. To discuss these matters, we review the philosophical motivations for infectious logics due to Bochvar, Halldén, Fitting, Ferguson and Beall, noticing that none of them discusses our main question. This is why we finally turn to the analysis of the truth-conditions for conjunction and disjunction in infectious logics, employing the framework of plurivalent logics, as discussed by Priest. In doing so, we arrive at the interesting conclusion that —in the context of infectious logics— conjunction is conjunction, whereas disjunction is not disjunction.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, "Read chimp lit"

Speranza

This should be a watershed book as it effectively demolishes the unwarranted assumptions that support the work of the major linguist of our times, Noam Chomsky. Instead of regarding language as predominantly computation and only secondarily as communication, as Chomsky insists, Daniel Everett offers convincing evidence that language’s main function is to communicate shared meanings within a cultural community, which allows for social learning and cultural creativity. To demonstrate this, Everett attempts to trace the origin of symbol use, which he sees as the foundation of human language, and he finds it in the distant prehistoric past amongst the far-travelled species we designate as Homo erectus. In linguistic terminology, Everett defends the constitutive view of language over the designative, preferred by cognitive scientists. After years of refusing to discuss the origin of language, Chomsky in 2002 agreed with the metaphysical speculation that it must have begun as a lucky neural mutation in a single individual. Everett presents a very strong case for slow cultural invention among many individuals as the impetus for language, but his certainty about symbol use among H. erectus is left on much less solid ground.

Monday, April 9, 2018

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, "Implicature and mode"

Speranza

This paper develops an account of mood selection with attitude predicates in French. I start by examining the “contextual commitment” account of mood developed by Portner and Rubinstein Proceedings of SALT 22, CLC Publications, Ithaca, NY, pp 461–487, 2012). A key innovation of Portner and Rubinstein’s account is to treat mood selection as fundamentally depending on a relation between individuals’ attitudes and the predicate’s modal backgrounds. I raise challenges for P&R’s qualitative analysis of contextual commitment and explanations of mood selection. There are indicative-selecting predicates that are felicitous in contexts where there isn’t contextual commitment ; and there are subjunctive-selecting predicates that involve no less contextual commitment than certain indicative-selecting verbs. I develop an alternative account of verbal mood. The general approach, which I call a state-of-mind approach, is to analyze mood in terms of whether the formal relation between the predicate’s modal backgrounds and an overall state of mind represents a relation of commitment. Indicative mood in French presupposes that the informational-evaluative state determined by the predicate’s modal backgrounds is included in the informational-evaluative state characterizing the event described by the predicate. The account provides an improved explanation of core mood-selection puzzles, including subjunctive-selection with emotive factives, indicative-selection with fiction verbs, indicative-selection with espérer ‘hope’ versus subjunctive-selection with vouloir ‘want’, and indicative-selection with commissives versus subjunctive-selection with directives. Subjunctive-selection with modal adjectives is briefly considered. The mood-selection properties of the predicates are derived from the proposed analysis of mood, independently attested features of the predicates’ semantics, and general principles of interpretation.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, The clausal implicature

Speranza

The standard view of clauses embedded under attitude verbs or modal predicates is that they act as terms standing for propositions, a view that faces a range of philosophical and linguistic difficulties. Recently an alternative has been explored according to which embedded clauses act semantically as predicates of content-bearing objects. This paper argues that this approach faces serious problems when it is based on possible worlds-semantics. It outlines a development of the approach in terms of truthmaker theory instead.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, "J. L. Speranza and H. P. Grice" -- the disimplicatures of 'and'

Speranza

Import-Export says that a conditional 'If p, if q, r' is always equivalent to the conditional 'If p and q, r'. I argue that Import-Export does not sit well with a classical approach to conjunction: given some plausible and widely accepted principles about conditionals, Import-Export together with classical conjunction leads to absurd consequences. My main goal is to draw out these surprising connections. In concluding I argue that the right response is to reject Import-Export and adopt instead a limited version which better fits natural language data; accounts for all the intuitions that motivate Import-Export in the first place; and fits better with a classical conjunction.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, The disimplicatures of the King of France

Speranza

This paper attempts to be a contribution to the epistemological project of explaining complex conceptual structures departing from more basic ones. The central thesis of the paper is that there are what I call “functionally structured concepts”, these are non-harmonic concepts in Dummett’s sense that might be legitimized if there is a function that justifies the tie between the inferential connection the concept allows us to trace. Proving this requires enhancing the russellian existential analysis of definite descriptions to apply to functions and using this in proving the legitimacy of such concepts. The utility of the proposal is shown for the case of thick ethical terms and an attempt is made to use it in explaining the development of natural numbers. This last move could allow us to go one step lower in explaining the genesis of natural numbers while maintaining the notion of abstract numbers as higher order entities.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, The implicatures of the plural

Speranza

Mereological universalists and nihilists disagree on the conditions for composition. In this paper, we show how this debate is a function of one’s chosen semantics for plural quantifiers. Debating mereologists have failed to appreciate this point because of the complexity of the debate and extraneous theoretical commitments. We eliminate this by framing the debate between universalists and nihilists in a formal model where these two theses about composition are contradictory. The examination of the two theories in the model brings clarity to a debate in which opponents frequently talk past one another. With the two views stated precisely, our investigation reveals the dependence of the mereologists’ ontological commitments on the semantics of plural quantifiers. Though we discuss the debate with respect to a simplified and idealized model, the insights provided will make more complex debates on composition more productive and deflationist criticisms of the debate less substantial.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, The implicatures of doxastic contexts

Speranza

Quine insisted that the satisfaction of an open modalised formula by an object depends on how that object is described. Kripke’s "objectual" interpretation of quantified modal logic, whereby variables are rigid, is commonly thought to avoid these Quinean worries. Yet there remain residual Quinean worries in the epistemic case. Theorists have recently been toying with assignment-shifting treatments of epistemic contexts. On such views an epistemic operator ends up binding all the variables in its scope. One might worry that this yields the undesirable result that any attempt to "quantify in" to an epistemic environment is blocked. But a famous alternative to Kripke's semantics, namely Lewis' counterpart semantics, also faces this worry, since it also treats the boxes and diamonds as assignment-shifting devices. As I'll demonstrate, the mere fact that a variable is bound is no obstacle to binding it. This provides a helpful lesson for those modelling de re epistemic contexts with assignment sensitivity, and perhaps leads the way toward the proper treatment of binding in both metaphysical and epistemic contexts: Kripke for metaphysical modality, Lewis for epistemic modality.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, In defence of an underdogma

Speranza


Truth by convention, once thought to be the foundation of a uniquely promising approach to explaining our access to the truth in nonempirical domains, is nowadays widely considered an absurdity. Its fall from grace has been due largely to the influence of an argument that can be sketched as follows: our linguistic conventions have the power to make it the case that a sentence expresses a particular proposition, but they can’t by themselves generate truth; whether a given proposition is true—and so whether the sentence that expresses it is true—is a matter of what the world is like, which means it isn’t a matter of convention alone. The consensus is that this argument is decisive against truth by convention. Strikingly, though, it has rarely been formulated with much precision. Here I provide a new rendering of the argument, one that reveals its structure and makes transparent just what assumptions it requires, and then I assess conventionalists’ prospects for resisting each of those assumptions. I conclude that the consensus is mistaken: contrary to what is almost universally thought, there remains a promising way forward for the conventionalist project. Along the way, I clarify conventionalists’ commitments by thinking about what truth by convention would need to be like in order for conventionalism to do the epistemological work it’s intended to do.

Monday, April 2, 2018

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza: The Conversational Exculpatures of Life

Speranza

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza -- How to Implicate in Oxonian

Speranza

Why Grice preferred to stick to British English

Speranza

Paul Grice, Julia Joyeaux, and Luigi Speranza: Inter-Textualities

Speranza

Julia Joyeaux = Julia Kristeva: the conversational exculpatures

Speranza

Grice and Kristeva at Harvard

Speranza

The uses of Grice by Julia Kristeva

Speranza

Paul Grice and Julia Joyeaux

Speranza

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza on grading

Speranza

Urmson, "On Grading"

This paper offers a model of graded modal judgment. It begins by showing why the phenomenon is so theoretically vexing: given plausible constraints on the logic of epistemic modality, it is actually impossible to model graded attitudes toward modal claims as judgments/ascriptions of probability to modalized propositions. In response to this problem, this paper considers two alternative models, on which modal operators are non-proposition-forming operators:
(1) Moss (2015), in which graded attitudes toward modal claims are represented as judgments/ascriptions of probability to a "proxy" proposition, belief in which would underwrite belief in the modal claim.
(2) A model on which graded attitudes toward modal claims are represented as judgments/ascriptions of credence to a (non-propositional) modal representation (rather than a proxy proposition).
The second model is shown to be both semantically and mathematically tractable—a feature which does not ultimately distinguish it from Moss (2015). The second model, however, is easily integrated into our ordinary understanding of the functional role of graded attitudes toward modal claims (in both cognition and normative epistemology)—something that, I argue, represents a positive contrast with the account of Moss (2015).

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza on predicativism

Speranza

The unification argument, usually regarded as the main argument for predicativism about proper names, has recently been attacked by Robin Jeshion. According to Jeshion, the unification argument is based on the assumption of the literality of predicative uses of proper names in statements such as “There is one Alfred in Princeton.” In such a use, a proper name ‘N’ is used predicatively to denote those, and only those, objects called N. As Jeshion argues, however, there are many other examples in which a proper name ‘N’ is used predicatively to denote objects which are not called N. Based on such cases, Jeshion challenges the predicativist to provide a justification for assuming that the original predicative use of proper names, to which the predicativist appeals in the unification argument, is literal. My aim in this paper is to defend predicativism by arguing that the predicativist’s assumption is well motivated. To this end, I first present the unification argument for predicativism and Jeshion’s challenge to it. Then, I argue that the answer provided by Delia Graff Fara to Jeshion’s challenge is unsatisfactory. Finally, I meet Jeshion’s challenge by extending the phenomena highlighted in Jeshion’s examples to the referential uses of proper names.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza on conversational exculpature

Speranza

Conversational exculpature is a pragmatic process whereby information is subtracted from, rather than added to, what the speaker literally says. This pragmatic content subtraction explains why we can say “Rob is six feet tall” without implying that Rob is between 5'0.99" and 6'0.01" tall, and why we can say “Ellen has a hat like the one Sherlock Holmes always wears” without implying Holmes exists or has a hat. This article presents a simple formalism for understanding this pragmatic mechanism, specifying how, in context, the result of such subtractions is determined. And it shows how the resulting theory of conversational exculpature accounts for a varied range of linguistic phenomena. A distinctive feature of the approach is the crucial role played by the question under discussion in determining the result of a given exculpature.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza and dispositions

Speranza

I argue that disposition ascriptions—claims like ‘the glass is fragile’—are semantically equivalent to possibility claims: they are true when the given object manifests the disposition in at least one of the relevant possible worlds.

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza on bounded disimplicature

Speranza

What does 'might' mean? One hypothesis is that 'It might be raining' is essentially an avowal of ignorance like 'For all I know, it's raining'. But it turns out these two constructions embed in different ways, in particular as parts of larger constructions like Wittgenstein's 'It might be raining and it's not' and Moore's 'It's raining and I don't know it', respectively. A variety of approaches have been developed to account for those differences. All approaches agree that both Moore sentences and Wittgenstein sentences are classically consistent. In this paper I argue against this consensus. I adduce a variety of new data which I argue can best be accounted for if we treat Wittgenstein sentences as being classically inconsistent. This creates a puzzle, since there is decisive reason to think that 'Might p' is classically consistent with 'Not p'. How can it also be that 'Might p and not p' and 'Not p and might p' are classically inconsistent? To make sense of this situation, I propose a new theory of epistemic modals and their interaction with embedding operators. This account makes sense of the subtle embedding behavior of epistemic modals, shedding new light on their meaning and, more broadly, the dynamics of information in natural language.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Implicature as Misused by Grice

Implicature as used by Grice's English Friends at Oxford

Implicatures in lingos other than Oxonian

Why Implicature should be preferred to Implication -- It's cooler

The implication-implicature distinction -- and why Quine ignored it

Implicature and Implication: Philosophy's Main Distinction

Implicature: Face the music and dance

How to avoid implicature like the plague (does)

How to Avoid Implicatures like the Rats (do)

How To Cancel Your Worse Implicatures

Grice: The Implicature Spotter

Grice: implicature and what philosophers should do with it

Grice: Implicature and its discontents

Grice: The Implicature Poem

Grice's Griceian Implicature

Grice: Cricket and Implicature

Grice: The Song and Dance Man

Grice The Pianist

Grice at Clifton

Grice at the Admiralty

Grice, of the Royal Navy

Grice during the Second World War

Grice and his enemies

Grice and his colleagues

Grice's Implicature to his Daughter

Grice's Implicature to his Son

Grice's Implicature to His Wife

Grice's Implicature to His Father ("I chopped the cherry tree")

Grice The Oxonian

Grice, the lecturer

H. P. Grice, University Lecturer

Herbert Paul Grice, Philosophical Tutor at St. John's -- the implicatures

Grice: The Old World of Implicature

Grice vs. Austin on implicature

Grice's Implicature and why it was ignored by J. L. Austin

Grice's Implicature -- and why it was ignored by Witters

The rational basis of Grice's concoction of 'implicature'

Grice's invention of implicature and its misuses by the non-Griceians

Implicature and what do with it

And Deliver Us From Implicature

What Implicature Did To Grice

Why Implicature Is Best When Conversational

Herbert Paul Grice and his conversational implicatures

Herbert Paul Grice -- and the conversational implicature approach to philosophy

Herbert Paul Grice: One Implicature Too Many

Herbert Paul Grice and all the implicatures

The Grice Papers on Implicature and Beyond

Why Grice Trusted Implicature

Grice's Kantotelian Theory of Implicature

Grice's Grand Theory of Implicature: Desiderata and Principles

Grice's Big Implicature

Grice: The Implicature of Philosophy

Grice: All You Always Wanted to Know About Implicature -- but Was [Sic] Afraid To Axe [Sic]

Herbert Paul Grice: The Birth of Implicature

Herbert Paul Grice: The Implicature "Don" at St. John's!

Herbert Paul Grice at St. John's: a list of all the tutees!

Grice and the implicature lessons to his pupils

Grice: "Implicatures for my Pupils"

Grice: The Implicature Lessons

Speranza

Why You Need That Oxonian Spirit To Appreciate Implicature

Speranza

Why You Need To Be Oxonian To Catch Implicature

Speranza

Why Implicature is Oxonian

Speranza

Herbert Paul and all the Grices

Speranza

Grice and all the Grices

Speranza

Herbert Paul Grice at St. John's -- the implicature years

Speranza

Why H. P. Grice went by "H. P. Grice"

Herbert Paul Grice on Witters

Grice and the implicatures of Wittgenstein's mistakes

Speranza