The Grice Club


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, May 31, 2010

Grice Grices

by J. L. Speranza
-- for the Grice Club

J writes in commentary to "Pirotic entailment" re my:

(x)Hx --> Mx

to formalise Moore's rather rambling rambles on 'ent' (p ent q) in 1919 (in front of the Aristotelian Society, if you can believe that):

--- as BARBARA being the name ("Barbara's the name", Moore wrote).

As J notes, "Barbara" was NOT the name.

J writes:

"[C]ategorical syllogisms did not allow for the singular term, so the usual socrates example is not really BARBARA, but just Modus Ponens. It would probably be like this:
All men are animals.
All animals are mortal, [thus].
All men are mortal.

Oddly, Grice was so fascinated by Quine's refusal to adopt Names in his System that Grice coined his System Q (so that Quine would vomit on it). Grice's example is:

At the Merseyside Geographical Society --

--- What are you doing here?
--- Why, I'm here to pay tribute to Marmaduke Bloggs, of course.
--- Marmaduke who?
--- Bloggs. The man who climbed Mt Everest on hands and knees.
--- But he doesn't exist!
--- What d'you mean?
--- I mean what I say: he was invented by journalists.
--- Are you saying he will not be attending the party.
--- Right. Someone isn't attending the party, and that's Marmaduke Bloggs.


Back to Moore:


All men are mortal
Socrates is a man
Socrates is a mortal.

This becomes in System Q:

(x)Hx ) Mx
(x)Sx ) Hx
(x)Sx ) Mx

---- As the editor on the Moore paper writes, "Moore doesn't use the horseshoe; he uses ')'. A bland sort of a shoe for a horse, if you axes me" (or words).

The problem is with

Grice grices.

Consider Grice in WoW:iii. There is a section which he entitles:

"Grice's paradox" -- this is famous enough to merit a quote in wiki.

However, Grice to specifies who he means.

Suppose he means G. Russell Grice, the East Anglian philosopher.


In sum, "Grice" does not MEAN. Only x grices does.

The problem is ...

what meaning postulate can we propose for

(x)Gx ) ...

It seems that

(x)Sx ) Hx

(Socrates is homo, in Latin -- In Latin, homo means man, not homosexual) is strictly best symbolised using what Grice has as the iota operator


There is an x -- no?

"the S"

But then, no. For we do say, "The president" (of the United States) but not "the Obama".

We CAN say, "The Obama who was elected President of the United States", as opposed, to, say, his brother.


So the point is about the 'descriptor', or as Grice prefers, the 'dossier'.

OBAMA has his dossier -- kept by the Pentagon, no doubt. It includes ALL that is true of Obama.

Similarly, for


--- this means "Herbert Paul Grice", 'born in Harborne, Staffordshire in 1913, March, 26" (I expect the only one fitting that description' -- granting that Harborne was part of WARWICKSHIRE then).

So one HAS to be careful.

What Moore meant 'escapes' me, though. Or not. Etc.

Disentailment and Disimplicature

--- by J. L. Speranza
------ for the Grice Club

I HAVE SAID REPEATEDLY that I trust 'disimplicature' will be THE philosophical term for the 21st century. It is new, newish, and newy.

Then, motivated by a comment by J on this blog -- under "Pirotic Entailment", I was forced to coin "disentailment"

as per


p ent q
p disent q


p +> q (p implicates q)
- (p +> q) (p disimplicates q).

Actually, the definition of 'disimplicature' above is MISLEADING. "Utterer U, by ASSERTING (or explicitly conveying) p, disimplicates that q" does NOT boil down to "it is not the case that U implicates".

Rather, it is the dropping of entailment.

Grice has two examples in unpublished work, and a few in published work. I advice to stick with Grice in PUBLISHED work, which is his expansion on 'loose' language in WoW:iii -- just before coining his "Modified Occam Razor"

--- This tie is blue; no, it is green. I mean, it is medium green in this light, but it is blue in this light.

"Surely," Grice writes, (words to the effect), "a change of colour is not what U meant". He is just using words loosely.

His other example --

"Macbeth saw Banquo"

vis a vis the analysis by Grice and Warnock (also unpublished) in terms of

"Macbeth saw a VISUM of Banquo".

Grice, WoW:iii wants to say that people (usually NOT philosophers) use 'see', typically, VERY LOOSELY. In the unpbublished stuff this becomes:

"Hamlet saw his father in the ramparts of Elsinore".

His OTHER example -- only marginal, i.e. written on the margin of his notes on 'disimplicature':

"You are the cream in my coffee"

The point is in terms of implicature and entailment.
Or rather, in terms of entailment.

"See" ENTAILS "existence of thing seen"
BUT Some people ("SOME" people) misuse 'see' as it were -- technically, they DROP that entailment.
They don't IMPLICATE (Grice seems to be suggesting that they are NOT clever enough to implicate). Rather, they DISIMPLICATE. So beware!

We say: When U said, "Hamlet saw his father", U disimplicated that his father was there to be seen. He was not. And U does know this."

So he flouts,

"Try to make your contribution one that is true"

or more specifically,

"Do not say what you believe to be false".

For U IS saying what he believes to be false: that Father exists when Hamlet seems him. Odd.

So, there is NO rationale for 'disimplicature'. If S. Yablo said, "Implicature happens", I'd say: it's that DISIMPLICATURE happens that should bother us, if we are not into that sort of thing.

Now YOU find out or expand how disentailment fits in! (and succeed!)

Speranza's Paradox

by J. L. Speranza
for the Grice Club

JONES, in "The syntax-semantic interface", this blog:

"Forster [2003] seems to me to have things
the wrong way round, for often enough once the semantics
is in place you are scuppered on getting a complete notion
of derivability within the usual constraints (essentially that
proofhood is decidable and hence the set of theorems effectively
enumerable). If the true sentences are effectively enumerable
then people will expect to see a complete deductive
system and hence "⊢" = "⊨"".

Excellent. This reminds me of Speranza's Paradox, which I conceived one hour ago when browing for what Jones refers to as 'the currency' of the rather otiose term, 'syntactic entailment'.

For google-hits were getting pretty boring about this: "semantic entailment entails syntactic entailment". They would not say this, but rather: "semantic entailment implies syntactic entailment" or vice versa, "syntactic entailment implies semantic entailment". Which is ONE step removed from Foster's rather vague reading about the 'identity' of the 'two notions' -- As Jones suggests, Foster is somehow minimising the intension-extension distinction here -- and hence Jones's apt formulation above,

"⊢" = "⊨"

--- which seems it applies to 'utterance-part' meaning (WoW:v!) we may like to expand in the proper metalogical terms, complete with phi and psi, to read as per belowed and be referred to as the "Identity Thesis" or perhaps something weaker in terms of iff, which I read as ')(', where each represents a horseshoe (I cannot find online the inverted horseshoe sign, i.e. the ().

φ⊢ψ )( φ⊨ψ


Then, I would like to oppose this "Iff" Thesis to what I may call the Semantic-Primitiveness Thesis and the Syntactic Primitiveness Thesis. For the Syntactic Primitiveness Thesis (which SEEMS more 'primitive'), we would have to replace the 'iff' (or )( above, in my rewriting of Jones's cited thesis) by 'syntactic entailment' to read:

φ⊢ψ ⊢ φ⊨ψ

There is a sub-version of this, which says quite the opposite, and reads:

φ⊨ψ ⊢ φ⊢ψ


Then we have the two variants of the Semantic Primitiveness thesis, which read

φ⊨ψ ⊨ φ⊢ψ

φ⊢ψ ⊨ φ⊨ψ


Informal analogues:

Syntactic primitiveness, version A:
"Syntactic entailment syntactically entails semantic entailment"

Version B:
"Semantic entailment syntactically entails syntactic entailment"

Semantic primitiveness, version A:
"Semantic entailment semantically entails syntactic entailment"

Semantic primitiveness, version B:
"Syntactic entailment semantically entails semantic entailment".

If only for euphonic reasons, I propose as true:
"Syntactic entailment syntactically entails semantic entailment"
(Thesis of Syntactic Primitiveness, Version A).

But then... I hope I have not myself implicated into something sordid...

φ⊢ψ ⊢ φ⊨ψ

lowercase φ or math symbol ϕ), pronounced [ˈfi] in modern Greek and /ˈfaɪ/ or sometimes /ˈfiː/ in English, is the 21st letter of the Greek ... - Similar
Psi (letter) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Psi (uppercase Ψ, lowercase ψ; pronounced in English as /ˈsaɪ/, sigh) is the 23rd ... with the Schrödinger equation and

The syntax semantics interface

This was a comment on  "The syntax semantics interface" but it ended up too large to be a comment.

My earlier comment applies here too, so you have to reword my observation to admit "syntactic entailment" as "derivability".

Thomas Forster seems to me to have things the wrong way round, for often enough once the semantics is in place you are scuppered on getting a complete notion of derivability within the usual constraints (essentially that proofhood is decidable and hence the set of theorems effectively enumerable).

If the true sentences are effectively enumerable then people will expect to see a complete deductive system and hence "|-" = "|=", and noone would think of that as "cooking the books".

The way to cook the books is to debase the semantics.
The best known example of this is second order logic.
Under its traditional (or "standard") semantics this logic is necessarily incomplete, since the truths are not enumerable (and there is a categorical finite axiomatisation of arithmetic, which would make arithmetic truth decidable if the logic were complete).

Then there was the Henkin semantics for second order logic, relative to which the usual deductive system is complete.  This works by admitting more models, so that every sentence which is not derivable has a counterexample, and hence is not logically valid, and we pretend it doesn't matter that we can't prove it.

This apparent gerrymandering becomes institutionalised in what I call "analytic semantics" (because I don't know that there is a term for it).
Which is what semantics became in mathematical logic.

This is a part of the process of formalisticisation of mathematical logic, in which logicians decouple from problems which cannot be dealt with formally.
The easiest examplar of this is the idea that questions in set theory are completely resolved if one knows which of the following three possibilities is the case:

A a positive answer is provable in ZFC
B a negative answer is provable in ZFC
C the problem is shown (in ZFC) to be independent of ZFC

In the case of the Continuum Hypothesis (CH) case C holds, so the problem (many think, including Thomas Forster) is solved.  But some of us think that we ought to interpret set theory relative to a semantics in which it makes sense to say, "OK, we know its independent of ZFC, but is it true?" and who suspect that Cantor would not have been satisfied by the independence result.

Going back to "analytic semantics", the formalistic turn in mathematical logic (which probably dates from mid 20th century) means that they are not interested in prescribing a semantics for languages like higher order logic.  Their interest is exclusively in the analysis of the kinds of things which the logic could be about.  Semantics then is not the assignment of meaning to a language, but rather the analysis of what meanings it could have and the deductive system still be sound.  If you do this analysis correctly then you end up, whatever the deductive system, with a "semantics" relative to which the deductive system is sound and complete.

Of course, this kind of semantics is a million miles from Grice, purely mathematical, no place for intentions (not even in the semantics of an intensional language).  Its also a long way from Carnap, who was into prescriptive semantics, even if these things were only "proposals".

A next entertaining step is to deny that second order logic (with the standard semantics) is a logic at all.
This is a redefinition of the term "Logic" which defines out the possibility of an incomplete logic.
There have been extended debates on FOM on whether (standard) second order logic is a logic, with Harvey Friedman leading the party for its rejection (which is not supposed to be a choice, but an objective fact, "standard second order logic" is not actually a logic, it is a semantics which lacks a deductive system).

Thomas does point out (in an odd way which probably results from his consorting with the theoreticians in the computer lab) that you can't always fix it up.
You should probably understand his reference to "rectype" as admitting that the required deductive system might not be effectively enumerable.


Pirotic Entailment

-- by J. L. Speranza
---- for the Grice Club

THERE'S, as Jones notes, syntactic entailment, semantic entailment, and what I propose to call 'pirotic' or pragmatic entailment. Just kidding!

But seriously, consider Moore's obsession with Barbara. In symbols

(x)Hx --> Mx

All men are mortal
Socrates is a man
Socrates is a mortal.

(I love the antiquity of using 'a mortal' instead of 'mortal' in Moore. Surely Grice's prose is easier to digest).


Now, to Carnap. But first, an online source provided these illustrations (author: Wang):

I run fast
I run

(syntactic entailment). Grice was fascinated with this -- just to prove Davidson wrong:

"HMS Pinafore sank the Bismarck"
"HMS Pinafore sank"



He bought some plastic flowers
He bought some flowers.


Wang constrasts this with semanatic entailment. His example:

He loves her
He likes her.


(Wang's points are so controversial they hurt, but one may recheck them, especially vis a vis the first 'syntactic' type to check what example HE uses).

Anyway, yes, now to Carnap:

All pirots karulise elatically
A is a pirot
A karulises elatically.

In symbols:

(x)Px --> Kx

(Carnap, Aufbau, tr. by this English lady).

So surely when Grice says, "this looks like entailment" he SHOULD know. Either a thing is an entailment or is not. (Granted, his was a subtle example, "Cook did not discover that the Pacific Islanders were interesting").

But in any case, since it makes a lot of sense to speak of 'entailment' when it comes to pirots (karulising elatically) I can't (or Kant) see what we improve by talking 'semantic'. Or not.

Grice, "Enntailment" (APA symposium), Grice Papers.

-- by JLS
---- for the GC

FURTHER TO the source of it all: Moore (1919). Moore writes:

"It might ... be suggested that we should say:
"p ent q" means "p ) q AND this proposition is
an instance of a formal implication, which is not
merely true but self-evident, like the laws of
formal logic". This proposed definitions would
avoid the paradoxes involved in Mr. Strachey's
definition, since such true formal implications
as "All the persons in this room are more than
five years old" are certainly not self-evident; and,
so far as I can see, it may state something which
is in fact true of p and q, whenever and only
when p ent q. I do not myself think that it
gives the meaning of "p ent q," since the kind of
relation which I see to hold between the premisses
and a conclusion of a syllogism seems to me
one which is purely "objective" in the sense that
no psychological term, such as is inovolved
in the meaning of "self-evident" is involved in
its definition (it it has one). I am not, however,
concerned to dispute that some such definition
of "p ent q" as this may be true."

--- this relates to his previous reference to Leibniz on 'necessary' or 'apodeictic' truth.

Grice, in Symposium on "Entailment" (APA) -- Grice Papers

by JLS
for the Grice Club.

WE HAVE SEEN that Moore is taking issue with Russell. Further down in the 1919 essay, Moore is more explicit about this:

"Mr. Russell, in the Principles of Mathematics (p. 34), treats the phrase, "q can be deduced from p" as if it meant exactly the same thing as "p ) q", or "p materially implies q"; and has repeated the same error elsewhere, e.g. in Philosophical Essays (p. 166). ... 'p ent q' does not mean the same as 'p ) q'".

Moore goes on to quote Strachey (Mind) on Lewis on "p strictly implies q". (The distinction Moore claims is ignored by Whitehead's and Russell's Principia (Moore quotes from p. 21 of PM as an illustration).

Moore's rebuttal:

"The proposition that I am in this room does materially
imply that I am more than five years old, since both
are true; and the assertion that it does is ... an
instance of a true formal implication, since it is in
fact true that all persons in this room are more
than five years old; but nothing appears to me then [sic]
the second of these two propositions can NOT be
deduced from the first -- that the kind of relation
which holds between the premisses, and conclusion of
a syllogism in Barbara does NOT hold between them. To
put it another way, it seems to me quite obvious
that the properties, "being a person in this room"
and "being more than five years old" are NOT related
in any kind of way in which "being a right angle" is
related to "being an angle", and which we express by
saying that, in the case of every term, the proposition
that the term is an angle can be deduced from the
proposition that the term is a right angle."


Note that this involves Grice's 'disimplicature' into the bargain.

"I brouhgt some flowers!"

--- "You did not! They are PLASTIC flowers!"

Grice, "Entailment" (for Symposium for APA), The Grice Collection, BANC 90/135

by JLS
for the GC

--- FURTHER to the passage from Moore's 1919, "p ent q" -- a second reference to Barbara later on the same essay by Moore. He is considering something like transitivity:

"To say that it does follow from it
is to say from

[(p /\ q) /- r]

it follows that

[p ) q /- r]

which can be easily be seen
to be false by taking
for p and q the two premisses
in Barbara, and for r
the conclusion. The conjunction,
"All men are mortal and Socrates
is a man" does entail
"Socrates is mortal". But it
is obviously not the case
that there follows from this

[(p ) q) /- r]

asserts; namely, that it is NOT
the case that "All men are mortal" is
true and the proposition

"'Socrates is a mortal' FOLLOWS
from 'Socrates is a man'"

false. The proposition that
"Socrates is a mortal" follows
from "Socrates is a man" IS
false; and yet, "All men are
mortal" may quite well be true."

... He goes on using "materially implies" now:

Moore writes:

"The proposition "All men are mortal"
does entail that "Socrates is a man' materially
implies (to use Mr. Russell's expression for ))
"Socrates is mortal"; that is to say, it entails
that it is not the case both that "Socrates
is a man" is true, and "Socrates is mortal" false. But
it does not in the least follow from this
that "All men are mortal" materially implies
that "Socrates is a mortal" FOLLOWS from
"Socrates is a man"; on the contrary, it
may, as we have seen, well be the case that
"All men are mortal" is true and yet
the proposition that "Socrates is a man"
entails "Socrates is a mortal" false."

At this point one starts to wonder why Grice found it important to distinguish 'human' from 'person'! -- For Grice, _humans_ are mortal; persons ain't!

The syntax-semantic interface

by JLS
for the GC

JONES finishes his commentary on "Grice, Entailment", this blog, with:


"In Moore [1919, where he introduces "p ent q"], and in
any philosopher before Goedel, it is possible that, like
Hilbert, it has not occurred to them that there may be a
difference of extension between "derivable from" and "entailed by".
This may contribute to their not thinking the distinction important, or not noticing it at all. Explicit research on semantics is a very modern thing."

Good point. For the record, there's pp. 74-74 of T. Foster's book on logic, in googlebooks, on 'syntactic and semantic entailment'. He notes that indeed by some sort of hocus pocus one CAN make the two coincide, but points that there are some problems even then.

The book is "Logic, induction, and sets", and his phrasing goes:

"Just cook up the axioms and rules of inference so that
[p /- q iff p /= q]."

"Not so: there are funny theories that cannot be
expressed as rectypes in this way (see exercise
85 later)."

Of course, he fails to 'explicate' if he means funny-haha (I doubt it) or funny-peculiar. And if the later, so what? :)

Grice on ⊢ and ⊨

By J. L. Speranza
--- for the Grice Club

I REFER TO JONES's commentary on "Grice, "Entailment"", this blog, vis a vis the important distinction between

p ⊢ q


p ⊨ q


Distinctions apart, one wonders that the person who first created the second symbol, "⊨", must have had in mind the first one, "⊢". I wonder if he (or she if it was Ruth Barcan Marcus, :)) cared to name the extra stroke. For "⊢" (or turnstile), introduced by Frege features the context stroke, '-', and the judgement stroke, '|'.


I copy:

"(a) Semantic entailment is the same as the implication that we have seen earlier. If all truth assignments that satisfy a set of forumulae S also satisfy A, then S semantically entails A. That is, S -> A; (b) Syntactic entailment is slighly different. If A can be derived from S using a finite application of the propositional inference rules, then S syntactically entails A."

--- which does not seem is a distinction which Grice would make. Why he does use 'semantic', or 'semantics' pretty freely, I don't think he uses 'syntax' much, less so 'syntactic'.

Then again I read from

"We have semantic entailment and syntactic entailment. Semantic entailment
is associated with a decision procedure, say truth tables, and theorems. Syntactic entailment is associated with a proof procedure (axioms, inference rules), say natural deduction, and proofs. For soundess, syntactic entailment (there is a proof of P in L) implies semantic entailment (P is a theorem of L). For
completeness, semantic entailment (P is a theorem of L) implies syntactic
entailment (There is a proof of P in L). ... So, basically, personally, when I have something I want to check, I think semantic; When I want something I need to construct, I think syntactic."

And when I need to deconstruct I think pragmatically!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Grice: The Convivial Unity

---- by JLS
------ for the GC

JONES WAS CONSIDERING various aspects of deconstructionism. I am not as optimistic as he is vis a vis detecting flaws in other people's arguments, etc. My pessimism may well derive from Grice. This is Strawson, in the online Brit. Academy memoir of his tutor:

"I suspect," Strawson writes, "sometimes, that
it was the strength of his own critical powers,
his sense of the vulnerability of
philosophical argument in general, that
partially accounted, at the time, for his
privately expressed views about the
ability of his own work to survive criticism. After
all, if there were ALWAYS [emphasis mine. JLS]
detectable flaws in others' reasoning,
why should there not be detectable, even
flaws in his own?"

(p. 517).

The issue is VERY central, and of course applies to everybody, not just Grice! In its most colourful form I owe it to Mike Geary, "One can never admit one is wrong" -- or, rather, "My views are always correct -- yours are never" -- or words to similar effect. Geary's point is multiculturalism. While we DO profess a political correctness lip-service respect for others' views, we know that OUR view is the correct.

Now, Strawson's point is perhaps subtler, but the point in the illocutionary force of 'asserting' remains the same:

"I assert that p". p must be true.

In Strawson's point about Grice, it's somewhat more complex, in that it is about "arguing", rather than asserting. So, it's not so much about asserting that p, but, rather, asserting q (conclusion) on the strenght of asserting p (premise).

Now, Grice's point is a general one.

There is a feature of philosophical argument that allows no Cartesian doubt! I say p; I say that p. I must be certain about p.

Yet one reads what other philosophers have written, and PART of the game -- if not the WHOLE of it, if you get a degree in philosophy, is what Jones calls 'gladiatorial' and Grice calls 'epoge' -- Jones contrasts this with 'conversational', and Grice with 'diagoge'.

But on the whole, Grice survived. I don't AGREE with Strawson's pessmistic outlook. For one, it is a SAD one. I rather like to think of Grice in terms of his convivial unity. He would often refer to the longitudinal unity of philosophy. And in a long life as his was -- 1913 to 1988 -- he surely had occasion to change his views. Yet, it would be simpistic to say, "Here he was wrong" -- or "Here I was wrong". Each point was a phase in a long development.

Chapman does make the same point. Grice was OBSESSED with his OWN views. What he had thought back in 1938, when he was still living in Harborne. What he had said in 1961 ("Causal theory of perception"). How what he then said in 1961 related to his views on meaning from 1948, and so on.

This is different from diffidence at thinking that one may be wrong as one utters that p, thinking that one isn't. Or not!

Construction, de-construction, re-construction

I am returning to Speranza's postings on these topics, having been distracted for a while.

One would think (being irreverent) that deconstruction is the kind of thing one might have to do between a construction and a re-construction, so that's my title.
Its not so of course.

I have had to refer to that wikpedia entry, since Speranza points out that the post I commented on was really motivated by consideration of deconstructionism.

And I like the idea.
That is, the idea I picked up from a fleeting glance at the wiki.

It sounds like deconstructionism is a kind of analysis (and "rational reconstruction" is also an analytic method).
It seems however to be an analysis motivated by the prejudice (not wholly without foundation) that any philosophical text (or is it any kind of text at all?) will, when we look closely enough, turn out to be ill-founded.
Not just wrong, but muddled and incoherent?

This points to another kind of paradox of analysis.
If a rational re-construction, (perhaps a formal model) is offered as a disambiguation of some historical text, and if we suppose from the advances in analysis which have taken place in the interim that we are now capable of constructing such things without serious risk of incoherence, then how can such a method provide an understanding of a theory which was in fact muddled and actually was incoherent or inconsistent?

The Aristotelian modelling which I undertook about a year ago under provocation from Speranza, Code and Grice (in reverse temporal order of unwitting complicity), provides a "classic" example, for I was there constructing multiple formal (and therefore, with the logical tools at hand, with a very high confidence of coherence) models approximating to a theory which on the face of it was probably wrong, if not actually inconsistent.
The most conspicuous sign of difficulty in the syllogism is in the existential fallacy, and this feature forced me to offer two kinds of model, both of which probably  misrepresented Aristotle by chosing different ways of fixing the original.  One by giving the syllogism a semantics which makes the existential fallacies non-fallacious, and the other kind by chosing a more credible account of the semantics and dropping the syllogisms which are not sound in that context.

It seems to me that the prejudice of deconstructionism often enough turns out to be true that a constructive analytic method should recognise the probability that the matters under analysis will not hang together and should offer a systematic approach to obtaining an informative analysis nonetheless.
For this a mere de-construction will not suffice, if by this we mean taking apart the original just far enough to show that it is ill-founded or inconsistent.

Typically a theory which does not fit together will have been based on some sound insights, each of which can be coherently articulated, but which prove difficult to combine sucessfully.  A proper analysis will find these coherent parts and will involve rational constructions of maximal consistent subtheories together with some account of why these cannot be combined together.

In my Aristotelian enterprise there is just an incling of such a method, but no systematic articulation.  For me, the methodological exposition is to hang around X-Logic, and this will involve an account of the role of rational re-construction which engages with the probability that the original material will prove to be, more or less, a mess.

Here I might say a little more about the distinction between construction and re-construction, which in my last comment on this depended on whether the construction is intended to explicate some prior material (re-construction), or whether it is an approach to some topic ab-initio (construction).
This is a wafer thin distinction, possibly not sustainable, and does not really impact on how the construction is undertaken, but only on how we judge the success of the construction.
Once again I refer to Carnap/Quine on analyticity, in which Quine insists against Carnap that a defined concept of analyticity must comply with precedent and that its compliance cannot be established, whereas Carnap specifically uses "explication" for the case that a definition is absolved from obligation to conform to precedent and is permitted to escape the paradox of analysis by providing a more precise and hence not quite the same meaning as any of the precedents.


The leaf and the flower

-- by J. L. Speranza
---- for the Grice Club.

(with gratitude to R. Paul, of Reed).

In WoW:i, Grice speaks of a leaf and a flower. He is waxing poetic on Wittgenstein's (or 'Witters'', as he'd prefer) "Philosophical Investigations:

Grice's point:

"[P]resumably the thought [is] [in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations, section 122] that, if a pair of objects plainly ARE [emphasis Grice's] a knife and a fork, then while it MIGHT [emphasis Grice's] be correct to speak of someone as seeing them as something different (perhaps as a leaf and a flower), it would be always (except possibly in very special circumstances) be incorrect (false, out of order, devoid of sense) to speak of seeing an x as an x [...]"

Grice at his best. Note that if you are trying to be kind to Witters -- as R. Paul, at Reed, on occasion is -- and look for the source, it won't pay!

Paul relies on Hacker's translation -- co-translation, really -- with J. Schulte - which Hacker (who succeeded Baker who had succeeded Grice as fellow as the ONLY college in Oxford that should survive should something very bad happen to that cathedral of learning -- St. John's --) thinks it supersedes Anscombe's -- and it does!

(Grice, alas, could only read Anscombe's translation).

This is Hacker/Schulte below:

---- Wittgenstein:

"122. It would have made as little sense
for me to say “Now I see it as…” as to
say at the sight of a knife and fork “Now I see
this as a knife and fork”. This utterance would
not be understood. Any more than: “Now it is a
fork for me” or “It can be a fork too”."

"123. One doesn’t ‘take’ [Man ‘hält auch nicht…] what
one knows to be the cutlery at a meal for cutlery, any
more than one ordinarily tries to move one’s mouth
as one eats, or strives to move it."

--- Clear as mud, right?

-- Anyway, I have elaborated elsewhere on the details of this -- lit-ideas, if you must, files available online and publicly so -- so now you KNOW, if you care to quote. The boring acknowledgement goes to R. Paul! Love him!

Grice, "Entailment", The H. Paul Grice Papers, BANC 90/135 -- Symposium American Philosophical Association

--- by J. L. Speranza
------ for the Grice Club.

GRICE WOULD OFTEN AMUSE me, and others -- his contemporaries -- with stuff. E.g. his use of 'implicature'. Isn't that word _funny_? Note also 'entailment'. Isn't that word 'also' funny? It is. Grice would play on 'entailment' versus 'implicature'. In "Entailment" he addresses the monster. It was created by Austin's man ("Some like Witters, but Moore's MY man"). Back in the day, Austin's man had said -- and the thing to reprinted in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society for 1919 -- as follows.

Moore writes:

"Let us express the relation which we assert to hold
between a particular proposition p,
and a particular proposition q, when we say that in
this sense q "follows from" or "is deducible from" p, by
the symbol "ent"; which I have chosen to express it, because
it may be used as an abbreviation for "entails," and
because "p entails q" is a natural expression
for "q follows from p," i.e., "entails" can naturally be used as
the converse of "follows from.""

The source of this 'naturalness' is NOT clear. Surely 'entails' is NOT an Italian common verb! What Moore should have done is choose a term of 'Latinate' pedigree. There were plenty AROUND. By choosing something that only holds water in English, he did a great dishonour to Cambridge philosophy that Grice (who was, even, Oxford) tried to remedy by using 'implicat', instead.

Moore goes on:

"(We cannot unambiguously
use the phrase "p implies q" as equivalent to "q follows
from p," though it is in fact often so used,
because, especially in consequence of Mr. Russell's writings,
"implies" has come to be used as a name for a totally
different relation: we might perhaps use
"p logically implies q2" or
"p formally implies q," though Mr. Russell has also
given a different meaning to "formal" implication)."

So -- just because this Lord is playing games with the
English language, we need a new coinage!? Give me a break!
Note that, come to grits, Russell's only
heritage in the history of logic is due to his association
with Alfred North Whitehead -- who KNEW. What is of value in
Russell's writings springs from this joint collaboration. This is
called "Principia Mathematica" and it IS an extended volume -- in
fact a few of them. It was first published in toto in 1913, and
only in connection with that monumental work does Russell's opinion
on this or that holds water.

Whitehead was more careful with the Engish way of words than Russell was. Russell was a rebel. (The painting of the man in the film, "Tom and Viv" did not help).

Moore continues:

""p ent q" will then assert that there
holds between p and q that relation which holds, for
instance, between the two premisses of a syllogism in Barbara,
taken as one conjunctive proposition, and the conclusion, equally
whether the premisses be true or false; and which does not hold, for
instance, between the proposition "Socrates was a man" and
the proposition "Socrates was a mortal," even though
it be in fact true that all men are rnortal."

Grice preferred, on the whole, "logical implication" (rather than what Moore also mentions in connection with this: Russell's "FORMAL implication"). Note that it all boils down to

phi /- psi

phi /= psi


i.e. we don't really NEED a way to 'pronounce' those symbols, do we? For Grice, there are VARIOUS things to consider here. In "Retrospective Epilogue" (1987), now in WoW, he distinguishes (Strand 6)

a) logical inference
b) pragmatic inference

within logical inference we have logical implication -- what Moore thinks he is being witty by using 'entail' instead. The point of KEEPING 'implication' is to mark the connection between what Grice and Thompson and many others call "if". "If" is called "material implication"

if p, q.

---- The meaning of this is given by the truth-table.

p ) q
1 1 1
0 1 1
1 0 0
0 1 0

In a premise-conclusion display, 'if' STILL holds

premise (phi, in metalogical parlance)
conclusion (psi, in metalogical parlance)

If Premise, Conclusion. The point, made by Grice, and many others -- in fact, the STANDARD way of seeing things, as in Myro et al, "Rudiments of Logic" -- is what wiki has as the method of the "associated" 'if' or associated conditional.
In a valid syllogism, it become TAUTOLOGOUS that if premise, conclusion. Talk of entailment can only confuse. Plus, he (Moore) wasn't really being
SO original. Many people had used 'entail' before him, and I don't know what
they are talking when they said he coined anything!

At least Grice did coin "implicature" -- in English. It had been used in
Latin, 'implicatura' by Sidonius, but his usage did not quite stick (for some reason). (My acknowledgment to R. Paul, of Reed).

Moore, G. E. (1920). External and Internal Realations, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (New Series), 20 (1920), pp. 40-62.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Steven Wright's Grandfather

KRAMER quotes in "Funny you should mention that", this blog:

"Steven Wright complains about his mean grandfather:
When I was little my grandfather asked me how old I was. I said, "Five." He said, "When I was your age, I was six"
I can’t articulate why that’s funny. Maybe the impossibility of the grandfather’s claim suggests the enormity of the insult, which we must remember is being delivered by someone who should be doing just the opposite. I’d like to hear a Gricean analysis of that one."
Or not!


"When I was little my grandfather asked
me how old I was."

--- here the script echoes the Carlin. It's like a historical past. A "would" scenario. People are usually asking questions "How old are you?" to 'kids'. The question here seems already inappropriate in that a good grandfather SHOULD know. That DOES depend on the number of grandchildren a grandfather has. But I know that "when I was little" *I* would be VERY surprised if MY grandfather asked me how old _I_ was.

"I said, "Five.""

There is a lot of technique. Cfr. the clumsier, "When I was five, my grandfather once asked me how old I was. I responded, naturally, that I was five".


So, this suggests that it's leading to a sort of snappy answer to a stupid question in reverse. Alla Humpty Dumpty:

"How old did you say you were?"
"Wrong! You never said such a thing!"


Wright continues:

"He said, "When I was your age, I was six.""

----- There is a 'schema' for this. When I was reading Sainsbury I learned about them. This is the overdoing scheme. Sainsbury speaks of the "Colonel Blimp" schema, the "Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells" schema, etc.

---- So, the point is a clear one: People. People are LIKE that. Note that, while I agree with Kramer's point of the analysis, about the "impossibility of stating Grandpa's claim", or in his precise words:

"Maybe the impossibility of the grandfather’s claim suggests the enormity of the insult, which we must remember is being delivered by someone who should be doing just the opposite."

But note TWO Points

1. Scare quotes. Actually this is how I first got the joke on first reading. I thought there was a lie involved.

2. Second-order or 'good advice' in the long run. Which is HOW I got the joke on first reading, too.

Re: (1), I first thought the grandpa was lying -- and that this was the liar-paradox with a vengeance.

"When I was five, I was six". The lie is so obscene that it requires some double quotes. This can fall, naturally, on 'five' or 'six', yielding the TRUE (unparadoxical, unlike the Liar-paradox claim):

--- a) "When I was 'five', I was six."
He was really SIX. This is NOT funny.

--- b) "When I was five, I was 'six'"
------ This IS funny.

Ad 2. Grandpa IS advising. Kramer wrote:

"Maybe the impossibility of the grandfather’s claim
suggests the enormity of the insult, which we must
remember is being delivered by someone who should
be doing just the opposite."

Provided you DO take it as an insult. I don't. If I were to take as insult what I overhear and hear from people I guess I should shoot myself! People are SO Insulting. I think Grandpa is being nice. He is saying, 'pretend you are maturer than you are'.

It's Polonius, with a vengeance.

Or not.

Carlin's Grandfather

In particular, I would like to address Kramer's points in two of his posts. The first is the analysis itself in "Funny you should mention that":

"Grandpa flouts the maxim of quantity with
WAY too much information, and the maxim of
manner (I guess) by using profanity with
a small child. Then Carlin’s flouts the
maxim of [relation+] by defending the Grandfather’s
adherence to the maxim of quality when it
was his flouting of quantity and manner
that needed explanation. (JL may have a different

-- + I stick to 'Relation' because it seems to kill Grice's effect of 'echoing Kant' here for any philosophy student who has studied Kant under Abbott's translation: Quality, Quantity, Relation, Manner. --- In Kant's own German it is Qualitaet, Quantitas, Relation, Modus -- and in my preferred jargon, which can be traced back to Aristotle, which is of course Kant's point ("echoing Aristotle", he almost writes): "Qualitas", "Quantitas", "Relatio" and "Modus". But I get your point!

--- In the second post, the commentary on "He wasn't going to bullshit", Kramer adds:

"Relevance [Relation] and quantity, for

By being precise about the Relation being Relation, I mean: if we are going to use "Relevance", one may just as well use Informativeness for Quantity, and Trustworthiness for Quality, and Perspicuity for Manner. But I think Grice's point was to amuse the philosophy student with echoing Kant (echoing Aristotle) here.

Kramer goes on:

"if what I say is irrelevant, then a fortiori it
provides too little information."

Oddly, I would have thought the contrary, but I get your point. Grice considers this in Strand 6 of "Retrospective Epilogue" -- mainy his caveat about OVERSUPPLY of information -- which he found more problematic than its UNDERSUPPLY. I may elaborate on that.

Kramer continues:

"Carlin's defense of his grandfather's statement,"

To wit,

--- "I'm going upstairs to fuck your grandmother"

(It's fun we should be discussing this, seeing that some (self-called) pragmaticists can be such a bore!)

--- (Never mind, Kantian philosophers).

"does not answer the questions "Why did you
provide so much detail and why did you
say it so crudely?""

The problem is that these seem like ex post facto. Not so much regarding Carlin, but his grandfather. Surely his grandfather is unavailable NOW (at the time of his delivering the line) for comment.

So it would be OTIOSE to ask about the utterer's intention of

"I am going upstairs to fuck your grandmother".

We are only interested, as pragmaticists, about the intentions of the UTTERER of the report: Carlin. Why should he be explaining the intentions behind his grandfather? Is this empathy or what?


--- One may remain UNCONVINCED by Carlin's account, but I think he means what he says. I think he DOES provide an answer to Kramer's two questions, and he in fact suggests an answer along the lines that the grandfather would supply, ex innuendo.

The questions were:

Question I:

"Why does U provide so much detail?"


Question II:

"Why does U say 'it' so crudely?"


It seems that the answers are different if we think of them as applying to Carlin or to his grandfather. Re: II, for example, how can Carlin NOT be crude if he is just reporting via oratio recta. If his grandfather was profane, so was the grandson. Otherwise we wouldn't use the double quotes of 'quotation' here. He is repeating what he heard from his grandfather. So the question only makes sense as it applies to the Grandfather, and we've agreed that it would have been senile of the man to use something LESS crude (e.g. "I am going to have an affair with your grandmother").

So this leaves us only with Question I:

"Why does U provide so much detail?" -- Again, this applies only to the Grandfather. I.e. to the original or initial utterance itself. Come to think of it, it's not precisely OVERWHELMING with detail. I mean, he does not go into any SORT of detail as to how he proceeds to 'fuck' her. I mention this because Kramer mentions the 'virile' side to the grandfather's otherwise 'inappropriate' commentary. And, as Dale Spender writes, in "Man made language", 'fuck' CAN be used by a female to mean a male, "I fuck my boyfriend" -- meaning, NOT that he plays a passive role (literally) but "METAPHORICALLY". As Grice would say, "Women are women". They see things from THEIR perspective.

So, since U does NOT provide so much detail, I cannot see why we should answer WHY he does it. He does not. Or not.

Kramer continues:

"So is it irrelevant, or just inadequate in quantity, and does it matter, as it is uncooperative, and it's really the uncooperativeness that carries the joke[?]"

God knows. Problem with "La rire" is that it IS a bore to read. As Someone said: problem with humour theory is that it is HARDLY humourous.

No, I don't think it's 'uncooperative'. It may be gross, out of place, silly, senile even (I don't make Kramer's distinction between masculine senility and other), etc. But it seems to abide by Qualitas-Quantitas-Relatio-Modus alright. So perhaps we need something else to deal with Grice's humour if there is any.

Perhaps, on second or third thoughts, it is NOT a particularly Gricean joke at all.

"My grandfather would say, 'I'm going upstairs to fuck your grandmother'. He was an honest man and he wasn't going to bullshit a four-year old".

It IS Gricean overall, in the overall generality. The POINT of communication. We have two 'pirots': one utterer, one addressee. The fact that pirots can talk does not mean that pirots SHOULD talk (unlike parots). Once the utterance WAS made, assumptions follow. U wanted A to realise or believe that U was going to fuck A's grandmother. As a novelty? Silly. This covers 'exhibitiveness' of the intention. Reflexive intention comes next. The way U intends A to come to think he was going to fuck his grandmother, etc. Plus he WAS being honest (in not bullshitting anyone, including a four year old).

Plus, he never existed!

Carlin's Grandfather

"One of George Carlin’s lines strikes me as especially Gricean." "(JL may have a different analysis.)"

We've been there, but I would like to point to the correctness of the Kramer analysis. I may have a thing to say about his "a forteriori" -- but I agree on the main with his analysis.

La Rire


"it struck me that Grice must have had something to say about humor, which turns on implicature, and, especially the flouting of maxims to create an implicature. Googling took me to the article linked above."

--- I think SHE quotes from a few good authors, but the bibliography is not really available. Attardo usually quotes from general sources and adds his "Griceanisms".


Perhaps we need a consideration of humour. Recall that for Bergson it was all about laughter, rather.

Grice could get boring about humour. He would say, "philosophy should be fun" (He meant that philosophy is to laugh WITH, not be laughed AT). In fact, I find most of his examples -- and ALL of his prose -- 'amusing'. I think he refers to this 'wanton temperament with which Nature endowed him'. So, I find all of his (sometimes dated) jokes sort of amusing. INCLUDING:

Have you stopped beating your wife?

--- (Grice 1961).

In fact, I should propose to mark with ":)" where we think that Grice is trying to be funny, and succeeding.

I find that an analysis of ANY PAGE by Grice should yield at LEAST 5 smileys. Or not.

Attardo -- the funny side of Italian Grice


"So it struck me that Grice must have had something to say about humor, which turns on implicature, and, especially the flouting of maxims to create an implicature."

Salvatore Attardo, who was born in the Lombardy, has written on this. He now lives in the USA -- but he travels back home often!

He has written in ENGLISH about English humour, but I long for the day I can read Attardo express his views about ITALIAN humour, which is SO different!

Attardo's locus classicus, for me, is his contribution to "Legacy of Grice", where he opens the collection. Etc.

There ARE other Gricean authors on humour, but here's for Attardo!

"BIG FAT Jack E. Leonard ... who's SO fat, he's a one-man comedy team ... ALL BY HIMSELF"

Kramer proposes for comparison (citing material)



On tonight’s show we’re going to talk about
comedy teams. You know, comedy teams like Laurel
and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis,
Jack E. Leonard..."


The 'joke' as went:

On tonight’s show we’re going to talk about
comedy teams. You know, comedy teams like Laurel
and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis,
and BIG FAT Jack E. Leonard -- who’s SO fat, he’s
a one-man comedy team . . . ALL BY HIMSELF

Kramer reports cite: "The audience reaction? If someone had dropped a pin, it would have been deafening."

If _I_ had been in the first audience -- i.e. in the intended audience as per first and only version of the 'joke':

On tonight’s show we’re going to talk about
comedy teams. You know, comedy teams like Laurel
and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis,
Jack E. Leonard..."

I WOULD have needed the exegesis that Kramer's joke reports. WITHOUT it, or sans it, the joke would be in the use of the singular form,

"Jack E. Leonard" to mean a double act.

But surely it could be, the implicature (wrong one at that and thus 'implicature', rather) that he has a split personality?

---- Oddly, and NOT to make the wrong connection. When Grice was presented with the exegesis of his work by his former PhD Student Richard Orville Warner, and his 'habitually mischiveous' colleague, Richard Edward Grandy, Grice found himself that he had to be quoting, boringly and tiringsomely,

"As Richard Grandy and Richard Warner say..."; "Grandy and Warner want me to believe that ...", "Grandy and Warner are on spot when they suggest..."


The issue IS very subtle when it comes to joint authorship, and I'm ready to discuss this vis a vis Grice and Strawson, In defense of a dogma

Or Grice and Baker, "Davidson on weakness of the will"

Or Grice and Strawson and Pears, "Metaphysics" (in Pears, 1957)

--- and there ARE other cases (e.g. his joint study with Haugeland which Haugeland pulbished as if it were his own!) etc.

I am particularly interested in what Harnish (of the Bach and Harnish fame) calls 'conjunction reduction':

--- Grice and Strawson attacked Quine.
--- Grice attacked Quine.

-- In "In defense of a dogma" Grice claims that ...

This above, to me, is -- it false? I don't think so. I think it's more like underinformative. Since it's Grice and Strawson who claimed that ..., in their joint "In defense of a dogma". But I realise the issue is controversial and only mention the rightness of Grice's approach to sound provocative.

But back to Flanagan and Allen.
And Abbott and Costello.
And Laurel and Hardy
And Martin and Lewis.

And "Jack E. Leonard".

On second thoughts. The implicature can ONLY be that he is ROTUND. No way it could refer to a split personality. And I say without having seen a photo of him, or nothing (if you excuse me the nonlitotic double negative). Or not.


Kramer quotes:
"what he called “how to Linkletterize a joke.” So that no living being of whatever dimness could be left behind in getting it."
--- And then there's explicature!
For Grice, it's all about the IM-plicit. He found the EX-plicit pretty boring. And right he was, too! (I share the sentiment!). The EX-plicit only gets 'sense', as it were, or 'makes' sense, in contrast with the IM-plicit, with trades with important philosophical points, e.g. 'implication', logical -- and so on.
Humour IS Gricean, as Kramer notes. It trades on the IM-plicit. You kill by bringing in Kent Bach's "impliciture" even! (Kent Bach's 'implicitures' are like 'explicatures', only different).
"no living being of whatever dimness". Plus, SOME 'legal' conversations. In SOME cases, explicitness is aimed as a protetion against liability, "I, Peter Michael Stefan Hacker, take as my lowal wife..." Etc. This sounds slighly obscene. WHERE else does one have to DROP one's name like that? Surely the reason is to communicate the bride who's she's becoming?
--- For Grice, the 'no need to make it explicit' follows from rationality principles. Only humans (or intelligent people generally -- I'm amusing myself with this loose talk) can IMPLICATE like that. Because only humans have the required reasoning power to REASON the 'implicature' out -- to FIGURE it out.
--- A pirot will implicate. A parrot won't (necessarily). Or not.

Grice and Linkletter

by J. L. Speranza
-- for the Grice Club.

KRAMER aptly recalls this dead comedian, and refers to (quoting):

"what he called “how to Linkletterize a joke.” So that no living being of whatever dimness could be left behind in getting it."

In a way, it's like Pears. I don't mean D. F. Pears, the philosopher. But his ancestror, who funded The Pears's Encyclopaedia. I recall reading in my copy of Pears's Encyclopaedia good entries for things like 'innuendo', understatement, implicature (almost), 'a English habit'.

So I would say that Grice represents this English tradition. To say less, mean more. On the other hand, we have other nations -- including Italians! "To Linkletterise" a joke, or a message, in general, may be a cultural thing. Why is it that we don't NEED 'explicature'?

Grice's Punchline

by JLS
for the GC

-- KRAMER in "Funny you should mention that":

"Cavett relates that Linkletter would spoil jokes by making explicit what is usually left for the audience to realize."

Good. There's also the punchline. Calvin has a good one at that in the youtube link provided by Kramer about the 'honeymoon' frame or 'script': 'it's all about the f*ck'.

The closest Grice came to humour, explicitly is what he 'shaggy dog'. I mean, why else choose

"The dog is shaggy" as an example of predication.

I like to think he was having a long shaggy dog story in mind. Or not.


Conversational structures of joke telling is very good. Atkinson/Heritage have a piece in their "Conversation Analysis" book with C. U. P. which I should revise. Of course we have to consider various contexts:

1 co-participant.

2 co-participants,


It seems it has to be (b) at least, to count as 'spoiling' or 'killing' the joke by explicaturising the implicature.


Note this is like the 'enthymeme', only different. A punchline does not really need to be involved in what Kramer is commenting above.

Making explicit the implicit should be criminalised. I know it killed Grice.

Grandpa is being uncooperative

by JLS
for the GC

"Grandpa's behavior without the bad word suggests senility, which we laugh at because, like the old silver clock on the wall, it waits for us all. The dirty word simultaneously changes the senility to virile feistiness and doubles down on grandpa's inappropriateness."


It is still problematic precisely what principle or maxim it flouts. It is a bit like your take on "My lips are sealed".

He is being informative. There is really no bit on the utterance he can 'elide' without making his move MORE inappropriate or odder.

He is being 'honest'.

He is being relevant. To his intention to communicate that precise thought. And his idea that the four-year old in front of him is 'willing' to learn.

He is being perspicuous. And orderly. "First going, upstairs; then, doing a bit of the other."


So, the joke must be only in Calvin's report in the meta-text:

[I'm going upstairs to fuck your grandmother]

sounds terse, and indeed, not terribly inappropriate by 'conversational maxims' standards. Recall Grice WANTS to say that conversational maxims are NOT 'moral maxims'.


The metatext, variants:

This is what my grandpa said:
I was four-year olds then, and I recall.
Looking back. I would say he was "Honest": he would NOT BULLSHIT.

--- the problem with the account is 'a four year old'. I would not think it is the way we use 'bullshit' that, when adding 'a four year old' as the OBJECT of the bullshitting, and it's about sexual behaviour at play. Note that Granda's choice is, too, the equivalent of "My lips are sealed".

In any case, next.

We need to see how WELL Grice applies to ALL jokes. I should re-read the post, "Funny that you should mention that..." to check if I missed another joke.

"Going upstairs"

--- by JLS
------ for the GC

WE ARE CONSIDERING various Gricean analyses for Geo. Carlin's three-liner:

"My grandfather would say: "I'm going upstairs to [delete expetive] your grandmother': He was an honest man and wouldn't bullshit a four year old"


Part of the problem, on top, is

"your grandmother".

This is perhaps not an altogether 'apt' description. The term "apt" I borrow (but won't return) J. O. Urmson, "Criteria of intensionality". I LOVE Urmson. In that essay, for the Aristotelian Society, which people won't quote because Grice has monopolised stuff, Urmson (writing in 1968) writes of things like the choice of the right 'conversational dossier' (to use Grice's term in "Vacuous Names", 1969).

---- "Your husband just delivered the mail"

Why did you say 'your husband'. He is the postman. "Yes but he IS your hubby, no?". Adapted from Urmson (should revise HIS example).

His point is that the choice of the right descript is 'directed' by some sort of principle which he calls "Principle of Apositeness", I think. Or "Aptness".


I would think that 'your grandmother' may trade on this. Note that out of the blue (in "The General Theory of Context", Grice does suggest that we forget about context, to think clearly philosphically on things):

"I'm going upstairs to (make love to) your grandmother".

seems to provoke some sort of 'disturbing' effect in that he is not saying, "my wife".

He is bringing the four-year old's mother of his father or mother. Since, as D. Spender notes, 'fuck' is like "RAPE", I can get the feeling.

Spender notes that 'fuck' is TOO active a verb. And nobody likes to be raped or to witness a rape or to hear about a rape. So, the grandfather is PROVOKING the child: "I'm raping the mother of your mother". Or something.


An honest boy would perhaps be provoked to such an extent that he may go, "You're NOT doing such filth." Or something.

Or not.

George Calvin's Disimplicatures

--- by JLS
----- for the GC

THANKS TO KRAMER for linking to the G. Calvin's monologue which I have just heard. I note that on 7:30 minute of the thing, he goes into variants of *f*ck* which we are analysing vis a vis his one three-liner:

"My grandather would say: "I'm going upstairs to fuck your grandmother": He was an honest man who wasn't going to bullshit a four-year old."

In that monologue that Kramer refers to Calvin goes on to provide 'rewrites':

--- f*ck after all can stand for

(a) make love
(b) go to bed
(c) have an affair.

Surely (c) won't do in the threeliner:

"I'm going upstairs to have an affair with your grandmother".

would confuse the child. Similarly, (b)

on the assumption that the child KNOWS it's the beds upstairs would similarly sound odd seeing that while U IS going to bed, the grandmother is ALREADY IN (the) bed. Plus, the problem here is in the reciprocal as in the example cited by Horn in "Natural History of Negation": (Title of song).

"We were married (but not to each other)."

"I'm going upstairs to go to bed with your grandmother" would need some rewrite itself:

"I'm going to be to LAY with your grandmother", perhaps, which does not seem to remove the profanity ("Sam and John get laid", title of film).

The 'make love' seeems to fare better, but as Kramer suggests, it would indicate some senility on the part of the grandfather. This may not translate (to French):

'coucher' -- go to bed
'faire l'amour'

--- and the third rude option.

"avoir un affair" sounds so bland in French that I wouldn't even count it. Seeing that 'affair' IS a French word.

Or not.

"Somewhere in Paddington"

--- by J. L. Speranza
------- for the Grice Club.

"And then she asked me where I lived. "Paddington," I said, assertively. "You live in a railway station, _then_, Mr. Ryder". I was taken aback.


In the adaption as dir. J. J. with Matthew Goode and Emma Thompson ("Brideshead Revisited") this goes:

Lady M.: And where do you live, Mr. Ryder?
Ryder: Paddington.
Lady M: You live in a railway station, Mr Ryder?
Ryder. Allow me to correct myself: "near" Paddington.

I submit that Ryder's second utterance IS FALSE. "Paddington" was thus called because of an area. It never meant to just NAME the premises of the railway station. So, Ryder lived IN Paddington, not "near" Paddington, which would be false.

---- People!

Grice was too much of a snob, "Somewhere in the South of France" (WoW:ii). Cfr. with the vulgar, "Somewhere in the south of France". "The South of France", versus "the south of France" is a matter of INTONATION. Surely you cannot "pronounce" the capital C, so what is Grice talking here?


Odd, funny

Kramer, in his comments on


"My grandfather would say, "I'm going upstairs to fuck your grandmother". He was an honest man and he wasn't going to bullshit a four-year old".

"I think the vulgarity is important to
the joke. Yes, the level of information is
itself odd, but odd isn't funny."

You think. I actually think, on most occasions, that odd is ALWAYS funny.

---- Recall we analysed the etymologies here, vis a vis, 'funny peculiar', 'funny ha ha'. I think he agreed that 'funny peculiar' predates 'funny ha ha' (or the other way round, I forget).

In any case, Grice uses 'odd', oddly, on one occasion, too many. Instead of indexing "Queen Elizabeth" in his Festschrift, they should have indexed 'odd' -- in WoW.

In general, 'odd' is THE sobriquet for the sort of inappropriateness that follows from NOT following those 'strategies' or what have you.

So I will or may elaborate on this.

As an exercise, I would suggest (but then I wouldn't, because suggest is boring) that you mention something which is ODD but NOT Funny.

I suppose I shoud propose the very scenario here:

"My grandfather would say, "I'm going upstairs to make love to your grandmother". He was an honest man and he wasn't going to bullshit a four-year old".

Part of the problem is the interaction of 'fuck' with BULLSHIT. Hence my titling the thing, "He wasn't going to bullshit". The point of bullshiting would be to call 'love' by the name that dares not tell its name, or something.

Oddly, there are MANY euphemisms for 'fuck', except 'fuck', of course, so one has to be careful there. Note that:

"My grandfather would say, 'I'm going upstairs to GO TO BED with your grandmother'. He was an honest man and he wasn't going to bullshit a four year old."

is INAPPROPRIATE -- and indeed odd but hardly funny. Indeed incomprehensible (and stuff).

So I propose an analyses of ways of bullshitting.

I proposed that NOT saying anything would be the normal thing to do, in which case, the choice that U places on Sub-U is otiose, or ill-formulated. Surely nobody was ASKING the grandfather to bullshit his grandson.

Note that in some milieus ('Hill billy'?) 'fuck' may NOT be a rude word. I can imagine a community where it has no bad overtones, and where the joke would not translate. Or not.

(But I suppose that if 'fuck' were not a vulgarism in that community, 'bullshit' would EITHER --. As an exercise, polite rephrasals of both 'fuck' and 'bullshit' as used by Carlin, may be in order. Or not).

Kusuma on Grice

-- by JLS
---- for the GC

FOR THE RECORD, the author referred to by Kramer in his "Funny you should mention that" is Kusuma. From an online source, this was her MA thesis 2006, submitted to the Dept of Linguistics, and it concerns a programme. Not the Gricean programme. A television programme.

Kusuma writes:

"Co-operative Principles are those that
should be obeyed by a speaker and a
hearer to have a smooth conversation."

Only: do not multiply PRINCILES beyond

In fact, I think that TWO starts can't get you started.

"Grice proposes the Co-operative Principles
that are reflected in the four maxims of conversation: Maxim of Quality, Maxim
of Quantity, Maxim of Relation and Maxim of Manner."

But he was JOKING, and linguists should KNOW about that!

"The principles are stated
in the fulfillment of the conversational maxims. In a conversation, sometimes
people may flout those maxims for some certain reasons,"

and dogs, too. In fact, my mother is a specialist of CATS' flouting maxims, too. Her pet's "miaow", for example, sometimes indicates a flout to 'perspicuity' (Is she wanting to urinate? or just hungry? or is just happy to see me?).

"although it does not
mean that they fail to communicate with each other. Flouting the conversational
maxims may not bring the communication to an end, but it may cause humor."

which is best when it HURTS others!

---- 'hurt' as humour can! Not by shooting or anything. People are so immune to humour these days that I long for the days of Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin, when it was ALL about the witty riposte to the wrong implicata.

"Based on these studies, this thesis was written to find out the relationship between
the humor in the comedy and the flouting of conversational maxims. This thesis
analyzes the flouting of conversational maxims in the drama comedy TV series "
Bajaj Bajuri Salon Oneng Edition", which was broadcast in Trans TV."

This is NOT transgender TV.

"There were
two episodes chosen by the writer to be analyzed. They were "Bajuri Fried
Chicken" and "Mpo Minah?s Demolished House. In analyzing"

I think there is a double quote missing there.

"the data, the writer
uses Grice's theory of conversational maxims. The"

in Version B-43. Currently, I'm studying his version A, Oxford Lectures on Logic and Conversation, 1964. Wittier!

"writer uses descriptive
approach to describe the reasons why the characters in the drama comedy "Bajaj
Bajuri Salon Oneng Edition" flout the maxims. After"

For this was NOT submitted to "Moralising Studies" of "Moralising un-Christian Uni".

"analyzing the data, the
writer can prove that there were floutings of maxims in the comedy that could
cause humor. The"

Apparently, the jury found it comical, too, and the author was awarded an MA.

"writer found out that the Maxim of Manner was flouted the
most by the characters in "Bajaj Bajuri Salon Oneng Edition". Moreover,"

---- I hope she provides a translation, because if not, they would not just FLOUT, but INFRINGE it!

"she also
found that there are some floutings of multiple maxims done by the characters to
create humor. For example, the flouting of the Maxim of Relation combined with
the flouting of the Maxim of Manner occurred the most in the drama comedy
"Bajaj Bajuri Salon Oneng Edition". From"

Blame the script writers ("That's not RELEVANT enough").

"the findings, the writer can conclude
that the flouting of the maxims in a conversation is important to create humor."

and then some.

I once wrote to Attalardo. "I have to congratulate you for having started the proceedings in "Legacy of Grice". He wrote, "Yes, but put the blame on my name starting with an "A"".

Attalardo, "Grice on humour". In "Legacy of Grice", pp. 1-... Proceedings of the Parasession at the Berekeley Linguistics Undergraduate Society, published in Berkeley.

O. T. O. H., Grice's favourite TV programme was not humour (sort of). It was "Star Treck". He was thus nicknamed "Trekkie".

"He wasn't going to bullshit"

KRAMER reports Calvin reporting:

"My grandfather would say: “I'm going upstairs to fuck your grandmother.” He was an honest man, and he wasn't going to bullshit a four-year-old."

In Kramer's analysis:

"Grandpa flouts the maxim of quantity with WAY too much information,"

-- Not necessarily.

"I'm going upstairs" sounds INCOMPLETE on the face of it. (In my previous post, I considered TWO subscenarios for this: the behaviour is naturally showing that -- he is heading upstairs. An odder scenario would be where no clue is available to the recipient as to what U is doing, whence "I'm going upstairs" MAY be informative -- but still incomplete. We DO need completion of 'go' verbs. We can't just say, "My uncle goes". It's not grammatical. We need the DESTINATION. "My uncle went to Corsica", e.g.

"and the maxim of manner (I guess) by using profanity with a small child."

In my previous post, I suggested that by applying detachability (Grice's test), i.e. "another way of putting forward that 'meaning'" -- seem to be just as odd. "I'm going upstairs to make love to your grandma", or "to cuddle up with your grandma". Even 'to sleep' with your grandma seems odd, under the circumstances. So it cannot have to do JUST with the choice of "f*ck". The profanity seems to be in the mentioning of the FACT. Some aspects of the world are best considered as TABOO regardless. Consider 'homosexual'. Apparently, there is NO way to explain that concept that lacks some 'unwanted' "implicature" -- or 'lesbian'. It seems like (or as if) every term is euphemistic (or dysphemistic). So with 'f*ck'. Therefore, it's the CONCEPT, not the expression of the concept. Hence it cannot really be "Manner" or MODUS, which is a category that Grice uses for 'expression' rather than "what is expressed" but, granted, Grice DID have problems with precisely THAT category. He was amusing himself with Kant, and now he had to follow the consequences of seeing everything, artificially, in terms of four categories.



"Then Carlin’s flouts the maxim of relevance by defending the Grandfather’s adherence to the maxim of quality when it was his flouting of quantity and manner that needed explanation. (JL may have a different analysis.)"

I agree, as I noted in my previous, and now that I re-read your anaysis, that there is this 'allusion', as it were to something as vague as Qualitas, which is Grice's totally artificial label for what's going on here: the utterer's CLAIM to what he utters. "He was an honest man" IS a cliche, and it has MANY other implications, too, not just 'he said the truth' (regardless). In fact, many anti-Kantians argue that it's more honest to LIE under some circumstances. So Carlin is just questioning and wanting his audience to QUESTION what we mean 'honest'.

But yes, the maxim of Relatio (as Grice would have it -- "Relation", used by Kant along with Qualitaet, Quantitaet, and Modus -- in the translation by Abbott that Grice is relying on) also plays its bit of a role. So this seems like an excellent example, thank you, for the FOUR categories.

QUALITAS: 'he was an honest man'
QUANTITAS 'to f*ck your granmother'


My objections would go against, in a way, the points I marked "??" above. I mentioned above why the use of a particular lexeme at this point ('f*ck') seems t pervade ANY _following_ of "Modus", as it were. As for the "??" attached to "Relatio", the issue seems different. For Kramer notes,

"[U] flouts [Relation, 'be relevant']" 'by defending sub-U's honesty."

I wouldn't know if one can claim someone is flouting 'be relevant' LIKE THAT, or by doing THAT. It seems U is free, by the cooperative principle, to do what he wants about the report, in oratio recta, of what his grandfather said. So, the comment about sub-U's honesty SEEMS relevant -- it 'dovetails' as Grice prefers, on occasion --. Indeed, it seems pretty relevant -- in that Grandpa's move was 'inappropriate' and so U needs to explain why the inappropropriateness is merely 'superficial' -- i.e. at the level of what is 'said' or asserted [that Sub-U was going upstairs to make love to his wife] rather than implicated.

Or not.

"He wasn't going to bullshit"

KRAMER, in previous post to this blog:

"One of George Carlin’s lines strikes me as especially Gricean. [pasted below]. Grandpa flouts the maxim of quantity with WAY too much information, and the maxim of manner (I guess) by using profanity with a small child. Then Carlin’s flouts the maxim of relevance by defending the Grandfather’s adherence to the maxim of quality when it was his flouting of quantity and manner that needed explanation. (JL may have a different analysis.)"

The text then:

"My grandfather would say: “I'm
going upstairs to fuck your grandmother.” He was
an honest man, and he wasn't going to bullshit
a four-year-old." (Carlin).

I have titled this as I did, because I think it was G. Ward, or someone else, who did write a linguistic essay on 'bullshit'. I never understood the notion, so this may serve as keyword.

"My grandfather would say: “I'm going upstairs to fuck your grandmother.” He was an honest man, and he wasn't going to bullshit a four-year-old."

I have not yet checked your hyperlink. There is something of a mystery about a hyperlink! I would think it may be Attalardo but it may not! Anyway (I'll soon find out, I hope):

"My grandfather would say: “I'm going upstairs to fuck your grandmother.” He was
an honest man, and he wasn't going to bullshit a four-year-old."
---- Well, yes. I would need to know about this Carlin. If this is stand up comedy, I can understand it.
"would" -- "My grandfather WOULD say". This is a sort of modal ambiguity. There is like a topic-comment emphasis here. "My grandfather", such a man, whose 'would' utterances merit a report. Followed by:
""I'm going" -- i.e. a strict oratio recta of something the utterer's grandfather WOULD rather than DID (strictly) say. How many times.
-- deletion of "to me"". "My grandfather would say" turns out to be, "would say TO ME", now in the role, "a four year old". The echo of proverb, about "my grandfather would say" thus also flouted.
-- indeed the implicature is short of (it that's the expression), "he has a pervert" almost. It reminds me of this from the other extreme of the spectrum:
-- "I'm going to the bathroom to do number two".
I find myself, as I recollect upon my former self, that I HAVE on occasion said such things. It would seem that a child NEEDS to inform what he is going to the toilet for. There are of course only TWO options provided: number one and/or number two. Why children need this is worth informing I don't know -- but can guess. In any case, the analogies seem to be:

---- Child is engaged in conversation with Adult. Child needs to put an end to that particular exchange, and explains reason, "I need to go to the toilet to do number two".
---- Grandparent is perhaps engaged in conversation with Child. "I'm going upstairs", he volunteers. (We may need to consider the other scenario where, say, Grandpa sees Child near the stairs, and the FIRST thing Grandpa says is, "I'm going upstairs..." -- and here with variants as to whether it is OBVIOUS that the grandparent is going upstairs or not. The oddest scenario would be if they 'meet' in the 'living' room, as it were.

Of course all the reason is where the humour (in part) lies, "He was an honest man"", what follows that is like an expansion on WHY he as an honest man ('he wasn't going to bullshit a four-year old').

Calvin's notion of honesty. "Honesty is the best policy, say I". The idea then is Grice's Quality. The idea seems to be that any other report of Grandpa's behaviour would be 'euphemistic' or a downright lie. Why would be the grandpa otherwise FAIL to be honest? Not saying anything would HARDLY be dishonest (on his part).

In fact, children are usually puzzled by euphemistic naps. I recall I always found the fact that my uncle would spend LONG naps with my aunt -- VERY disturbing. What WERE they doing?

Note that in MY Case, I never conceived of my grandpa and grandma in SEXUAL terms. Hey, I would not even consider my papa and my mama in sexual terms. Why, come to think of it, I wouldn't consider MYSELF in sexual terms. So, it's not just the profanity of 'f*ck'. It's the actual literal import of the verb. It would be just as odd by using a polite variant,

"I am going upstairs to copulate -- with your grandmother". In fact, I was brought up a Catholic. (I later turned into an Anglican, which is what I now am). So, we would NEVER conceive of 'making love' like that. It would be a no-no. Only sex for procreation is allowed in the mind and soul of some infants. Etc.


I should consider Kramer's variants, but in another post!


Funny you should mention that…

Lawrence J. Kramer for the Grice Club

I came upon an interesting paper this morning about humor and Grice’s maxims.  How, you ask, did that happen?  Funny you should mention that…

Dick Cavett writes a column for the New York Time on line edition.  This week, he wrote a remembrance of Art Linkletter, who died yesterday, I think.  Cavett was for some time a joke-writer for a TV show, and Linkletter was, briefly, a joke-teller on that show.  One of the other writers was named Dave.  Cavett relates that Linkletter would spoil jokes by making explicit what is usually left for the audience to realize:

One night at dinner at Dave’s house… , he reduced the table to hysterics by recalling a specific example of what he called “how to Linkletterize a joke.” So that no living being of whatever dimness could be left behind in getting it.

Ready? All you youngies need to know is that there was once a popular comic named Jack E. Leonard, a man physically rotund enough to be appropriately, and affectionately, called “Fat Jack.”

Here is the one line Art selected from that day’s Dave Lloyd submissions: “On tonight’s show we’re going to talk about comedy teams. You know, comedy teams like Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, Jack E. Leonard . . . .”

That’s how Dave wrote it.

Here’ what Art — democratically assuring that no one hearing it should be left in the dark — did to it. All emphases are his:

“On tonight’s show we’re going to talk about comedy teams. You know, comedy teams like Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis….and BIG FAT Jack E. Leonard . . . who’s SO fat, he’s a one-man comedy team . . . ALL BY HIMSELF!”

The audience reaction? If someone had dropped a pin, it would have been deafening. 

So it struck me that Grice must have had something to say about humor, which turns on implicature, and, especially the flouting of maxims to create an implicature.   Googling took me to the article linked above. 

One of George Carlin’s lines strikes me as especially Gricean:

My grandfather would say: “I'm going upstairs to fuck your grandmother.” He was an honest man, and he wasn't going to bullshit a four-year-old.

Grandpa flouts the maxim of quantity with WAY too much information, and the maxim of manner (I guess) by using profanity with a small child.   Then Carlin’s flouts the maxim of relevance by defending the Grandfather’s adherence to the maxim of quality when it was his flouting of quantity and manner that needed explanation.   (JL may have a different analysis.)

One of my favorite one-liners takes the same, usually benign relationship in another direction.  Steven Wright complains about his mean grandfather:

When I was little my grandfather asked me how old I was.  I said, "Five." He said, "When I was your age, I was six."

I can’t articulate why that’s funny.  Maybe the impossibility of the grandfather’s claim suggests the enormity of the insult, which we must remember is being delivered by someone who should be doing just the opposite.   I’d like to hear a Gricean analysis of that one.

"You live in a railway station?"

--- by J. L. Speranza
------- for the Grice Club.

"BRIDESHEAD revisited" opened in a local cinema, and I went to see it (for a third time, I had seen it when it opened last year) yesterday. The script is by Harwood, and based of course on Waugh.

EMMA THOMPSON: And where do you live, Mister Ryder?
MATTHEW GOODE: Paddington.
EMMA THOMPSON (in her expressive best -- she should have gotten this Oscar for this):
---- "You live in a railway station, Mister Ryder?

Now, what follows, is good for Gricean analysis.

GOODE sort of blushes -- this is a formal dining at Brideshead and he has already committed the gaffe of wearing the most inappropriate clothes -- when he KNEW he could have lent some from the Lord Flyte.

And then he mutters,

GOODE: Mmm. Sorry about that. [Or words to that effect].


I thought he was going to provide the exact location, as I would, clumsily. Instead, he just goes:

"I live NEAR Paddington".


Or "Paddington Station", I forget.

NOW, anyone who KNOWS Paddington well -- I don't -- should HELP!

I know Waugh was such a snob, he would live in Islington, I think, but walk south all the way to Westminster W1 to deliver his correspondence from there, so that it would be marked W1, so I know what he meant!

Or not!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Grice and Anscombe

by J. L. Speranza
-- for the Grice Club.

IT WAS GOOD TO LEARN via hist-analytic -- a mailing list run by S. R. Bayne and hosted by R. B. Jones -- that Bayne's book, "Anscombe's Intention" is now out. I have copied from his blog at

the table of contents, below -- as I propose, in this club, to expand, if we can, on the Grice-Anscombe connection.


Bayne indeed acknowleges me, and I have to acknowledge him for having allowed me to discuss these issues -- (He is also author and contributor to this blog).

The interfaces between Grice and Anscombe and many and varied, as it were. For the record, besides the ones mentioned by Bayne, and the ones discussed at hist-analytic now deposited at Jones's website -- I should mention a folder at the Grice Collection -- (the specific contents of the collection had been mentioned and discussed elsewhere in the club -- in a couple of posts more or less successive -- with the keyword "Papers" in the header, if I recollect alright) --.

This folder just, reads, "Anscombe". So that's ANOTHER overlap, or interface, no?



Bayne's book starts with an intro which comprises three sections. Just to browse the marvel of his analytic skills in even organising the thing is a thing to behold and admire -- Not our browing: what is to admire is his skill, but you KNEW that.


I may discuss particular collocations of some particular sections in other posts to the club -- always vis a vis you know who (Grice) (Herbert Paul, not Geoffrey Russell).





Bayne writes:

a) Logical Positivism and the Humanist Response
b) Private Languages before Wittgenstein (circa 1940)
c) Acts of Will and Willful Acts


1: 'Prediction', 'Intention', and 'Intentional'
2: Prediction, Commands and the Falsity of Expressions of Intention.
3: Expressions of Intention, Prediction and Talking Leaves.
4: The Agent as Sole Authority in Knowledge of Intentions


5: 'A Certain Sense of the Question 'Why''
a. Some Gricean Points
6: Intentional 'Under a Description'
a. Anscombe's Later Discussion of 'Under a Descriptio'n
b. Davidson's Use of 'Under a Description'
c. The Intentionality of Sensation
d. Anscombe's Criticism of Davidson on Agency
e. Davidson on Tying One's Shoes 'Under a Description'
7: The Involuntary
8: Non-Observational Knowledge
a. Donnellan on 'Knowing What I Am Doing'
9: A Difficult Distinction Based on Causation
10: Introducing Mental Causes
11: Mental Causes are neither Intentions nor Desires
13: Backward Looking Motives and Motives-In-General
14: Mental Causes and Backward-Looking Motives
15: Mental Causes or Reasons?


16: 'I Don't Know Why I Did It'
17: 'I Don't Know Why I Did It '(Continued)
18: When the Answer to the Question ''Why'' Makes No Sense
19: What Makes an Action Intentional?
20: Non-Forward Looking Intentional Actions
21: Chains Consisting of Actions


22: Acting 'with the Intention That' 23: Whether an Intentional Action has a Unique Description as Such
24: Individuating Actions
25: Identifying Intentional Actions
26: How Many Actions are There?
27: Acts of Intending and Efficacy
a. Intentional Acts of Creation
28: Observational Knowledge of Intentions, Again
29: I Do What Happens
30: Against the Idea of Intentions as Initiating Causes of Action
31: Knowledge of Intention is not Like Our Knowledge of Commands
32: Lists and Two Kinds of Error: Introducing Practical Wisdom


33: Aristotle's Practical Syllogism
a. R. M. Hare and 'Insane Premises'
b. Davidson and 'nsane Premises'
34: Wants and Practical Reasoning
35: Wanting as the Starting Point of a Practical Syllogism
a. Actions as processes
b. Wants not Included in a Practical Syllogism
c. Incontinence and the Division of Responsibility
d. The Difference between Theoretical and Practical Syllogisms
36: Wanting and Its Place in Reasoning
37: Desirability Characterizations
38: How We Arrive at Desirability Characterizations
39: The Non-necessity of any Particular Desirability Characterization
in Relation to Wanting
40: The Similarity of the Relations of Wanting to Good and Judgment
to Truth.
a. Ryle on Pleasure
b. Choice, Volition, and Intention
41: Ethics and Philosophical Psychology
a. 'Ought' and the Divine Law
c. Speculative Remarks on Volition and Intention
42: Practical Reasoning and Mental Processes
43: The Complexity of 'Doing'
44: Acting with an Idea of an End
45: The Problem of Practical Knowledge
46: Interest and the Why-Question
47: 'Intentional' and the Form of Description
a. Animal Intentions
48: Practical Knowledge and 'Knowledges'
49: The Meaning of 'Voluntary'
a. Davidson on Voluntary Action without Intention
b. Observation and Voluntary Movement
50. Intentions and Predictions
51. Wanting and the Future
52: 'I am Going to but I Won't'


a. Hume, Popper, and Regularity
b. Russell and the Idea of Lawlikeness
c. Singularity vs. Regularity
d. Anscombe on Hume
e. Russell's Anticipation of Davidson/Ducasse
f. Anscombe on the Singularity of Causation
g. Applying Kripke to Singular Causation
h. Calling into Question the Necessary A Posteriori
i. The Singularist View and Knowledge of Actions
j. Feynman, Bohm, and the 'Magic' Box
k. Anscombe, Bohm and Mechanistic Determinism
l. Reconciling Singularity and Regularity Theories


a. The Causes of Action
b. Anscombe and Chisholm
c. Chisholm's 1966 Position on Agent Causation
d. Melden's Problem(s) with Volition
e. Anscombe Critique of Chisholm
f. Davidson and Anscombe on Agent Causation
g. James, Volition, and Anomalous Monism"


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oxford's art of midwifery

by J. L. Speranza
-- for the Grice Club

GRICE amusingly reminisces about Joseph, the Oxford tutor, in "Prejudices and predilections, being the life and opinions of Paul Grice" by Paul Grice. Joseph, Grice recalls, was "dedicated to the Socratic art of midwifery; he sought to bring forth error and to strangle it at birth." (Grice, 1986, p. 62).

Bob Logic, the Oxonian

-- by J. L. Speranza
---- for the Grice Club

--- THERE IS THIS IDEA THAT OXONIANS are very logical. Perhaps they are. In any case, perhaps they were. Witness this title, from vintage 1821 and its prequels!



Egan, Pierce (1821).

Life in London,


the day and night scenes of Jerry Hawthorn, Esq., and his elegant friend Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their rambles and sprees through the metropolis.

London: Sherwood, Neely and Jones.

_____ (1847).

Tom and Jerry,


the day and night scenes of Jerry Hawthorne, Esq., and Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their rambles and sprees through the metropolis.

London: John Dicks.

_____ (1848).

The finish to the adventures of Tom, Jerry, and Logic, in their pursuits through life in and out of London.

London: Reeves and Turner.


Of course it's Bob Logic, the Oxonian, who will elaborate on all the 'implicatures'.

It's all about the liability: the cynic's cooperative principle

by JLS
for the GC

KRAMER WAS WONDERING ABOUT THE LIABILITY. This is Google hits, first page, for the phrase, "it's all about the liability". I should analyse some of the contexts. Cheers,



Domes for Haiti
Mar 18, 2010 ...

1. "It's all about the liability. The fiscal sponsor I am talking with just informed me that in order to make everything "100% legally sound" ..." - CachedDomes for Haiti: dome home, et

Mar 21, 2010 ... Doems are Poems ·

2. "It's all about the liability. The fiscal sponsor I..." htt. ...

Show more results from domesforhaiti.blogspot.comQuestion about

Hardi board in tub/shower area - Bathrooms Forum ...
12 posts - 4 authors - Last post: Mar 13

3. "It's all about the liability. It's up to the installer to know the steps that occur before and after, because with construction varying due ..."

Clip Draw [Archive] - THR
23 posts - 13 authors - Last post: Jan 17, 2003

4. "It's all about the liability thing. "Your honor, I shot myself in the foot because I had my finger on the trigger as I was holstering my ..." › ... › Handguns: General Discussion

WalMart shoplifters out on bail - mugshots included - Topix
16 posts - 5 authors - Last post: May 14

5. "Regarding WalMarts' policy of not leaving the property, it's all about the liability. Such policies usually are a result of someone losing ..." - CachedGet more discussion results
FanIQ News: Natalie Randolph introduced as Coolidge High School ...

6. "It's all about the liability issue of would could happen. It is irresponsible to not look at all the pros and cons regarding this decision....and that is ..." - CachedOkobojiville

Jul 5, 2009 ...

7. "I know it's all about “the liability,” but my kid will never know the joy of diving like I did. I grew up next to a 12 foot high board that ..." - Cached - SimilarThe current flu vaccine, page 1
20 posts - 18 authors - Last post: Dec 26, 2003

8. "It's all about the liability. Companies will pay for the shots cause its cheaper than covering a lawsuit launched by someone infected on the ..."

Apple - Support - Discussions - Unlocked iPhone ...
14 posts - 7 authors - Last post: Oct 6, 2008

"It's all about the liability. As malcolm links to below, there is no problem whatsoever speaking about the lawful purchasing of an unlocked ..." › ... › iPhone Hardware › iPhone 3G

Print Page - CSA approval?

"if you were grid tied i could see it. the components are csa approved or you would not be able to buy them. i guess it's all about the liability insurance. ...";topic...0


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Survival of the Liar

by J. L. Speranza
-- for the Grice Club.

KRAMER in 'ex post facto, ex ante facto' comment, this blog:

"to the extent A believes that U is not speaking truthfully, A will regard U's utterance as a charade, not as part of conversation. But to the extent that A believes U, I don't see how analysis of the conversation that A thinks is happening is aided by any reference to the fact that U is lying."


Good point. Perhaps evolutionary point? I must say that if I am an evolutionist it's because of Kramer. He evolved me into that.

I would think Grice is thinking of thought transmissions. Consider WoW: 286. Tired of analysis, Grice is venturing a 'myth'. Why one would care to have TRUE beliefs about things. Note that I know People who rather not!

Grice writes:

"The creature C"

or pirot, as I prefer

"may be frustrated if certain psychological
correspondences do not obtain. For instance, if
C believes WRONGLY that the object in front of
it is a piece of cheese, or things WRONGLY
of cheese as being from its point of view
as soeming to eat, then at the very least, C
may get indegestion when it consumes the object"

-- which happened to be a venomous fungus. And death followed indigestion.

Grice goes on:

"For this reason, psychological correspondences
are required (things like beliefs HAVE to be true,
and so on) for the operation of the psychological
mechanisms which I have sketched to be
BENEFICIAL to the creature in question"

In my "The feast of conversational reason", I just expanded on the co-pirotic situation.

A: That's cheese, right?
B: No; it's a poisonous venom.

Why would B, who is a friendly pirot, or co-pirot (cfr. pun in "Pirots of Penzance") lie about such a crucial stuff? It's not like they are enemies, or anything.


"to the extent that A believes U, I don't see how analysis of the conversation that A thinks is happening is aided by any reference to the fact that U is lying."

I'm not sure I'm getting Kramer's point, since MINE is so obvious it hurts. Of course, qua conversationalists, qua engaged in the alleged common goal of 'exchanging 'information'', by definition true, should care otherwise!

The liar is a no-no! But, it seems he goes BEYOND meaning.

Consider, again, irony.

Irony is NOT a lie, you know, but the point Grice makes about irony and meaning -- ironising about -p via uttering "p") and meaning that p, and lying about -p by uttering 'p' -- may all connect:

Grice's example is

"Palmer gave Nicklaus quite a beating."

what U meant:


--- that Palmer gave Nicklaus quite a beating.

But, perhaps, Grice notes, U is being ironical, in which case, it is not the case that by uttering "It is raining" U meant that it is raining.


U is not lying either.

Grice imagines the scenario of someone reporting:


"When U uttered the sentence, 'Palmer gave Nicklaus
quite a beating', U meant THAT Palmer vanquished
Nicklaus with some ease."

Grice comments:

"U might have been speaking IRONICALLY,"

-- never mind lying --

"in which case he would likely have meant
that _Nicklaus_ vanquised _Palmer_ with some ease. In that case [(R)] would clearly be false."

So, at one stage, the lying or non-lying circumstances are just 'round the corner' but I have no petrol to sell!