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?

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Monday, August 30, 2010

interoscular: mutual kissing

They interosculated: they kissed each other (in the mouth).
Bowler, Superior Person's Guide to English.


the collection of postcards as a hobby-- Bowler, Superior Person's Guide to English.


an implicature.

Bowler, "Superior Person's Guide to English"

catachresis: misapplication of a word

says Bowler, "Superior Person's Guide to English"

jumentous: is this word really necessary

Asks Bowler.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Police are trying to reunite precious World War I documents and jewellery found in a bin with their owner



"Maureen Whitaker mentioned a report from BBC News for Hampshire and
the Isle of Wight on 25 August: "Police are trying to reunite
precious World War I documents and jewellery found in a bin with
their owner.""

A cyclist rode past the historic Chatham house repainted fluorescent lime green and yellow, and has the town talking

A caption to a photograph in the Boston Globe last Thursday was
submitted by Walter Sheppard: "A cyclist rode past the historic
Chatham house repainted fluorescent lime green and yellow, and has
the town talking." For the avoidance of doubt, it is the colour
scheme of the repainted house that has the town talking, not the

A Montgomery County police officer has been charged with assault for hitting a suspect on the head with a baton after the suspect had fled

From Quinion:

"The long arm of the law? Leo Boivin tells us about a story from the
Washington Post last Saturday: "A Montgomery County police officer
has been charged with assault for hitting a suspect on the head
with a baton after the suspect had fled, officials said Friday.""

Is this word really necessary?

jumentous: "that smells like that of the urine of a horse".

--- by J. L. Speranza

M. Quinion reports in today's World Wide Words: "Is this word really necessary?"

"The word 'jumentous' is usually explained as meaning a smell like that of the
urine of a horse."

In 1992, in "The Superior Person's Second Book of Weird and Wondrous Words," Peter Bowler asked of it: "Is this word really necessary?"


Perhaps not obligatory, though?


Quinion adds: "'jumentous' comes from Latin "jumentum", which the Oxford
English Dictionary explains means a yoke-beast, from "jugum", a

"Though this might reasonably include oxen, the Oxford Latin
Dictionary helpfully notes - somewhat surprisingly in view of its
origin - that in Roman times it usually meant horses or mules, not

"Similarly, the obsolete English word "jument", from the
same source, could mean any beast of burden, but was most often
applied to a horse or donkey."

It was first used is a report of the symptoms of
a sick person, in 1801:

"No motion of the bowels; urine very scanty, red with a
jumentous and lateritious sediment."

The British Journal of Homoeopathy.

The word was deemed to be unfamiliar enough that it was defined in a footnote as relating to a working horse."

"By the end of the century", Quinion notes, "the word had become extremely rare."

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Se quel guerrier io fossi

Conditionals and volitions: A griceian outlook

(Sorry I have been late in replying things and things -- I've been very busy -- with opera! Sort of ... --) Anyway, I am reading the libretto of "Aida" and this is wiki on it:

"Radames dreams both of gaining victory on the battle field and of Aida, the Ethiopian slave, with whom he is secretly in love (Radames: Se quel guerrier io fossi!...Celeste Aida - "Heavenly Aïda")".


Now, that sentence,

Se quel guerrier io fossi.

Translates as

If that warrior I were.

or in more idiomatic English

Were I that warrior!

----- Nonsense!

Consider the logical form:

if p, q

p ) q

-- where ) is the horseshoe.

Possibilities. When you find a protasis (or antecedent) without apodosis (or consequent), assume the apodosis, "I would be the happiest (UTTERER --male, woman, etc) in the world".


Conditionals and volition.

Radames says,

"If I were that warrior!"

----- This is the opening of the opera. But from the context, it is obvious that he WOULD enjoy being the warrior.

Surely, there is some AMBIGUITY. As things happen, just because he WILL eventually BE that warrior, he will be buried alive. So there is some sort of tragic irony involved.



Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Griceian bagel

J. Goard: "cream cheese"/"cheese": "technically endocentric compounds but without full projection of the semantics of the head."

A Griceian bagel

Ben: "A bagel without cream cheese is a "dry" one. I don't know if it works at Starbucks, though. And I can't imagine what would happen if you asked for your bagel "wet.""

A Griceian bagel

Philipp: "No self-respecting New Yorker should ever order a "multigrain bagel"".

A Griceian bagel

R: A multigrain bagel, please.
B: Butter or cream cheese?
R: You are an arsehole.


"Am I the only one who finds the "Butter or Cheese?" question to be extremely bizarre in an entirely different way? I've never heard of anyone referring to "Cream Cheese" as just "Cheese," especially in the context of a bagel spread. If someone asks me if I want cheese on my bagel, then they'd better have some Cheddar on hand."

A Griceian bagel

Nathan Myers:

"Andy Bumatai, a comedian in Hawai'i, performed excellent skit involving a hotel guest and room service, containing the question,

"And would you like that cheeseburger with or without cheese?"".

A Griceian bagel

Ran Ari-Gur:

"I've frequently run into this sort of problem at Burger King. A few different interactions are possible. The one that works out well is:

Me: I'd like a veggie burger combo.
Person behind counter (PBC): Would you like cheese on that?
Me: No, thank you.
PBC: O.K., your total is . . .

Another common interaction is:

Me: I'd like a veggie burger combo.
PBC: Would you like a medium, or a large?
Me: A medium, please.
PBC: O.K., your total is . . .

which I don't like so much, because "medium" is bigger and more expensive than what they give me when they don't ask. Eventually I decided that the question must be intended as "Would you like to upgrade that from the default size to either 'medium' or 'large'?", but the last time I went, the interaction I had was this:

Me: I'd like a veggie burger combo.
PBC: Would you like a medium, or a large?
Me: No, thanks.
PBC: Wait, so you don't want a combo? You just want the sandwich?
Me: Oh, um, I'll have a medium, please.

Not all of us have graduate degrees in the pragmatics of fast-food ordering."

A Griceian bagel

Cliff Crawford: "In college one semester I worked at the deli counter in one of the dining halls. After making a sandwich for someone, I was always supposed to ask,

"Do you want chips, or a pickle?"

(with intonation indicating an either-or choice, though of course "neither" was a valid answer too)

"You would not believe the number of people who would answer, "Yes.""

A Griceian bagel

R: A multigrain bagel, please
B: Do you want butter or cheese?


"What really irks me is that as far as I know, "plain" when talking about bagels has nothing to do with whether or not you have butter or cream cheese. It has to do with whether or not the bagel itself is covered with onions, or poppyseeds, or everything."

A Griceian bagel

Levi Montgomery: "I refuse to say "jo-jos." I say "…and some of those potatoes, too." They usually give them to me. Sometimes they say "You mean the jo-jos?" and I say "Whatever." One memorable time, however, the clerk attempted to make me actually name them, and I send "Yeah, never mind. Just the chicken." She knew perfectly well what I meant."

A Griceian bagel

Levi Montgomery: "I refuse to say "jo-jos." I say "…and some of those potatoes, too." They usually give them to me. Sometimes they say "You mean the jo-jos?" and I say "Whatever." One memorable time, however, the clerk attempted to make me actually name them, and I send "Yeah, never mind. Just the chicken." She knew perfectly well what I meant."

A Griceain bagel

-- A plain multigrain bagel, please.
-- Butter or cheese?


"the polite answer is: "I'm sorry, but you've presented me with a false dichotomy.""

A Griceian bagel


"The definition of "plain" is not universal in all restaurant situations. It's better that the barista aim for clarification of an order instead of risking getting the order wrong."

"Right. In New England, at least when I was growing up, a "regular" coffee came with cream in it."

A Griceain bagel


"I assumed that the question was

"Do you want BUTTER or CHEESE?" (rise-fall rise-fall)

"with the presupposition that one or the other is wanted."

"I don't think she would have flipped her lid at the innocuous "Do you want butter or cheese?" (straight rise, no presupposition)."

A Griceian bagel

P. Byrne: "I witnessed a similar incident while waiting to be served at the railway station cafe in Cambridge, England. The gentleman in front of me, whom I guessed to be an academic type, asked for a coffee and received the reply."

Normal or decaf?

"He refused to make a choice and insisted for several minutes that he just wanted "coffee".

A Griceian bagel

MJ: "Maybe she felt as though she was being confronted with a "Are you still beating your wife?"-type question."

A Griceian bagel

MJ: "Maybe she felt as though she was being confronted with a "Are you still beating your wife?"-type question."

A Griceian bagel

Richard: "If [Dr. Rosenthal] [were] such a stickler for correct English, "I want my multigrain bagel" would have been incorrect as she was at that time (and is likely still) not in possession of any multigrain bagels."

A Griceian bagel

Ginger Yellow: "This woman [Dr. Rosenthal, if you must] is clearly being obnoxious. They do "understand what a plain multigrain bagel" is. By your own words, you did not ask for a "plain multigrain bagel". You asked for a "multigrain bagel"."

A Griceian bagel

Mark P: "I can think of a lot of reasons to get mad about customer service these days, but I'm having a hard time with this one. Isn't in your best interest to make sure the person behind the counter knows exactly what you want? I suspect something else was going on. Or perhaps both customer and server are (metaphorically) arseholes."

A Griceian bagel

J. Byer: "Wow. Grice's maxims are excellent, but there's a debater's principle of charity that says we owe it to our fellows to strive to understand what they mean in light of their interests not our own."

A Griceian bagel

R: A plain multigrain bagel.
B: Do you want cheese or butter on that?

"Dr. Rosenthal refused on Gricean grounds to answer."

A Griceian bagel

From Liberman's blog post:

Me: And a cinnamon raisin bagel, please.
Barista: Do you want butter or cream cheese on that?
Me: No thanks.
Barista: You want it toasted?
Me: Nope.

A Griceian bagel

Gricean bagel rage

Rosenthal, at Starbucks, NYC:

-- A toasted multigrain bagel, please

-- Do you want butter or cheese?

--- (silence). You are an arsehole.

-------- Cops intervene

Rosenthal's point: "it would be otiose to have to specify what you do NOT want".


Comments on Liberman's blog --

Liberman writes (adapted)

"When Grice drafted his maxims for cooperative conversation, he didn't have in mind that we should get upset when people violate them."

Didn't he?

"On the contrary, the whole idea was to use apparent violations as the basis for reasoning about conversational implicatures, the things that people obviously mean but don't literally say. Still, people do get upset about all aspects of other people's language use, and it's common to object to redundancy, as in "ATM machine""


Well, it's more object to 'overinformativeness', right? The category of Quantity (which Grice retrieved humoristically from Kant --. No 'avoid redundacy', really.


"— though members of what William Safire used to call the Squad Squad rarely get as upset as the anonymous "pilotless drone" man did ("Is it sinking into your thick skull, you high school drop-out?", 2/7/2007)."

"It's even rarer for usage disputes to escalate to the point where police intervention is required. But I've now gotten a dozen emails drawing my attention to a recent linguistic fracas where the cops were asked to rule on a matter involving conversational implicature. According to J. Doyle, R. Rosenberg and A. Karni, "Grammar stickler: Starbucks booted me", N.Y. Post 8/16/2010: "Starbucks' strange vernacular finally drove a customer nuts. L. Rosenthal, a college English prof from Manhattan, said 3 cops forcibly ejected her from an Upper West Side Starbucks yesterday morning after she got into a dispute with a counterperson — make that barista — for refusing to place her order by the coffee chain's rules. Rosenthal, who is in her early 60s, asked for

A toasted multigrain bagel, please.

— and she became enraged when the barista at the franchise, on Columbus Avenue at 86th Street, followed up by inquiring,

Do you want butter or cheese?

"I just wanted a multigrain bagel," she told The Post. "I refused to say 'without butter or cheese.' When you go to Burger King,

You don't have to list the six things you do NOT want.

"Linguistically, it's stupid. And I'm a stickler for correct English."

Let's stipulate that the question of when and how customers should have to specify what they don't want is not a matter of grammar, as such, and go on to learn more about what happened on that fateful West Side morning. Yesterday's breakfast-bagel tussle heated up when the barista told the prickly prof that he wouldn't serve her unless she specified whether she wanted a schmear of butter or cheese — or neither.

"I yelled, 'I want my multigrain bagel!' " Rosenthal said.

"The barista said, 'You're not going to get anything unless you say butter or cheese!' " But Rosenthal, on principle, refused to back down. "I didn't even want the bagel anymore," she said.

The bagel brouhaha escalated until the manager called cops, and responding officers ordered her to leave, threatening to arrest her if she went back inside, she said.

"It was very humiliating to be thrown out, and all I did was ask for a bagel," recalled Rosenthal, who said she holds a Ph.D. from Columbia.

"If you don't use their language, they refuse to serve you. They don't understand what a plain multigrain bagel is."

"There's some evidence in the story that possible violations of the maxims of quantity and manner were not the only points at issue."

A Starbucks employee who witnessed the incident blamed Rosenthal.

"She would not answer. It was a reasonable question," the worker said.

"She called [the barista] an a- -hole."

Most of those who have sent me links to this story have been disappointed that the dispute was not over the nomenclature of different coffee serving sizes, as featured in Paul Rudd's "Venti is twenty" rant from the movie Role Models:

Or Dave Barry's classic Ask Mister Language Person column ("Latte lingo: Raising a pint at Starbucks", 11/30/2004):

"We begin today with a disturbing escalation in the trend of coffee retailers giving stupid names to cup sizes."

"As you know, this trend began several years ago when Starbucks (motto: "There's one opening right now in your basement") decided to call its cup sizes "Tall" (meaning "not tall," or ''small"), "Grande" (meaning "medium") and "Venti" (meaning, for all we know, "weasel snot").

"Unfortunately, we consumers, like moron sheep, started actually USING these names. Why? If Starbucks decided to call its toilets "AquaSwooshies," would we go along with THAT? Yes! Baaa!"

"Recently, at the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Death March, Mister Language Person noticed that a Starbuck's competitor, Seattle's Best Coffee (which also uses "Tall" for small and "Grande" for medium) is calling ITS large cup size — get ready — "Grande Supremo."

"Yes. And as Mister Language Person watched in horror, many customers — seemingly intelligent, briefcase-toting adults — actually used this term, as in, "I'll take a Grande Supremo.""

"Listen, people: You should never, ever have to utter the words "Grande Supremo" unless you are addressing a tribal warlord who is holding you captive and threatening to burn you at the stake."


"Because if we let the coffee people get away with this, they're not going to stop, and some day, just to get a lousy cup of coffee, you'll hear yourself saying""

"I'll have a Mega Grandissimaximo Giganto de Humongo-Rama-Lama-Ding-Dong decaf."

"And then you will ask for the key to the AquaSwooshie. And when THAT happens, people, the terrorists will have won.

"In a comment on that 2004 post, Stefano Taschini expressed the opinion that the whole thing is really beside the point, because, 'I believe there must have been a small mistype: technically, a warm liquid that you ingest in quantities exceeding half a liter is "stock" not "coffee". In English, I think, the word infusion would also be appropriate (though I have to say that I myself am fond of the American-style coffee-bean-derived liquid, whatever you choose to call the substance and its various sizes). [Update — more discussion at the Economist's Johnson blog, and LOTS more discussion at Metafilter. Current counts on Google News suggest that the Starbucks v. Rosenthal story is getting more uptake than (say) the Marc Hauser story.]

Camp helps burn survivors

From Quinion's World Wide Words: "a headline, in the Cincinnati Enquirer of Ohio last Sunday (sent in by Brian Halsall), could be taken two ways: "Camp helps burn survivors"".

Cfr. Chomsky,

"Flying planes can be dangerous."
"Sue is eager to please"

Thursday, August 19, 2010

ERP-waveforms starting at the presentation of the disambiguating adverb for dialogues containing violations (grey)

The caption for fig. 2 in that horrific study on Gricean brainwaves:

"ERP-waveforms starting at the presentation of the disambiguating adverb for dialogues containing violations (grey) and neutral dialogues (black) on a frontal (Fz) and a posterior electrode (Pz)."

Enough to have Grice's brain ...

It IS understood: they were Groeningen (in the Netherlands) undergrads, who did it for some course credit AND money.

Electrode placement (triangle indicates nose of participant)

This is the caption for fig. 1 of "Gricean brainwaves" study. Grice would be horrified! It is understood: they were Groeningen undergrads -- hence the nose. And if you believe this: they took course credit AND money!

Grice's Brain

A study of what happens in your brain -- and Grice's, we expect -- when you witness a violation to one of his maxims. It was written by Dutch scholars. Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Formal Grice

By Roger Bishop Jones for The Grice Club.

I now have a chapter on Grice in my projected tome of formal analysis, which is populated at present only by material on vacuous names and a reference to the material on Aristotle which connects with Grice and Code.

These are not particularly outstanding examples of Grice's work, and it would be nice to have a formal treatment of some more important part of Grice's work, of which perhaps the most important if it could be done, would be something from the William James lectures.

Does JL or anyone else know of any other attempts to give a formal treatment to material from the James lectures, or to any other important part of Grice's philosophy?


Grice on Propositions

By Roger Bishop Jones for The Grice Club

I'm interested to know more about what Grice has said on "propositions" (in connection with "the eternal city").

I think of propositions as the meanings of sentences, and Grice certainly was interested in meanings, and in something he called "central meaning", by way of distinguishing what is "said" from what is "implicated".

He seems to have been reluctant to call these central meanings propositions, and I wonder why that was, and whether there are other parts of Grice's writings which cast light on his attitude towards use of the word "proposition", or indeed on his views about propositions.

In relation to "central meanings" if I may take that for a moment to be a Griceian surrogate for propositions, is it safe to say that was seeking to elucidate a single distinction, rather than to explore what might possible be multiple related distinctions?

There do seem to be multiple ways in which one might approach the analysis of what sentences mean.  The one I have seen in Grice might be said to approach "central meaning" by way of implicature.  If we can identify the implicatures and put them aside (for this purpose), then what we are left with is "central meaning".

Two other approaches are:

1. by consideration of when reported speech is accurate or misleading.
(for reported speech does not replicate how something is said or what it implicates, but must convey what is said and hence depends upon the claim as reported have the same content, conveying the same proposition, as the original)

2. by considering the content of explicit discussions about meanings.

We have there three (and there will probably be more) approaches to pinning down the notion of proposition which are not too far removed from Grice's method of philosophising, (though not so close to how Carnap might think about this), and its not obvious that these three approaches will yield the same answers.  A pluralistic Carnap* might embrace this situation readily, and might start by saying that propositions as a part of the semantics of a language, are a technical device the details of which might vary from one language to another.

Is there anything in Grice to suggest that either his notion of "central meaning" or his notion of proposition (if he had one), might not be absolute, and might be best analysed as more than once related concept?


Monday, August 16, 2010

Boy chases away man who shot his dad with kitchen knife

Did the boy know the knife was loaded?

What is this thing called, love?

Bimbo actress: "What's that in the road? A head?"

Director: "No! The line is, 'what's that in the road ahead?' Get it right!"

Bimbo actress: "What is this thing called, love?"

Director: "No, no, no! The line is, 'what is this thing called love?' Honestly, Phillip! I can't go on with this."

(c) Benny Hill

A Miami man is behind bars after he tried to steal a woman's baby that he didn't even know and ended up punching the infant in the face

Apparently, nbcmiami has an issue needing an editor. From another article on the same site with Todd Wright's byline: l -It-98275349.html

"A Miami man is behind bars after he tried to steal a woman's baby that he didn't even know and ended up punching the infant in the face."

I think I could do Todd's job with one arm tied behind my back of writing news stories.

Boy chases away man who shot his dead with kitchen knife

Boy with kitchen knife chases away the man who shot the boy's father.
Boy with knife repels his father's gun-wielding assailant.
Assailant shoots man, is chased away by the victim's son who was armed with a knife.

This is trickier than at first one imagines.

Boy chases away man who shot his dad with kitchen knife

The dad the man the boy chased shot lived.

The Dangling-Participle Disimplicature: "Man chases away man who shot his dad with kitchen knife"

Boy chases away man who shot his dad with kitchen knife

Boy chases away man who shot his dad with kitchen knife

I'm glad Kramer taught me how to add illustrations to this blog.

Boy chases away man who shot his dad with kitchen knife.

Boy chases away man who shot his dad with kitchen knife

"A Broward dad is lucky to be alive after he was shot"

----- but not "to death". There is 'shoot' and 'shoot to death'. I wonder how Chomsky would analyse the phrase, 'to death'. It bored me "to tears". "I'm bored to death". "It bores me to death". He was shot 'to death' seems to be a different use of 'to death'. But surely, perhaps, by following, "be as informative as is required", one need to have added, 'not to death' in the headline:

Boy chases away who shot his dad not to death with kitchen knife.

---- The implicature of 'dad' is that he is alive. It would be TOO frivolous, even for a journalist, to refer to a dead father as a 'dad', I expect.

Plus, it's a 'kid' who can call a 'dad' dad -- not a grown up, we expect, journalist.

"during a botched robbery attempt."

As opposed to a non-botched success.

"And he has his 9-year-old son to thank for it. Police are searching for a suspect who shot Rodney Shepard in front of his three sons"

Is 'three' necessary? I feel I need to know their ages. It seems we have a little hero here -- but what if the other sons were 16 and 21? I would feel that the OLDER sons should have done something, rather. Plus, perhaps it was clumsy of the 9-year older to 'chase away' the shooter rather than, dunno, knocked him down?

"Monday evening in Plantation."

Shouldn't this be "a" plantation? Strawson notes that sometimes, common nouns ('congress') grow capitals ("the Congress") only to drop the 'definite iota operator' ('the'): "Congress". How named this plantation Plantation? Is that lack of imagination or what?

"The shooting happened shortly before 5 p.m. Monday at the home on the 4500 block of Northwest 3rd Court. According to police,Shepard and his three boys, 8-year-old twins and a 9-year-old son, were confronted by a family acquaintance outside the house."

I'm relieved the hero was the eldest.

"As they talked to the acquaintance, known as "Dred" or "Dred O," a Mercedes pulled into the driveway and a man with a handgun jumped out of the car and approached them.
The gunman ordered Shepard into his house and began to search his pockets for valuables."

-- money basically.

"Shepard and the gunman began to struggle, and Shepard wound up shot in the leg."

-- wound up with a wound, literally.

"The 9-year-old got a kitchen knife in attempt to ward off the gunman, who fled the scene. Dred also fled the scene." But dread FILLED the scene.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Disjunctions and Desires

--- I'm elaborating on this but a few things connect (with J's excellent remark that 'desires' are not discrete, while disjunctions are).


"indeterminacy" of conversational implicata (online "Logic and Conversation). You gotta love Grice for stating that, 'by uttering 'He hasn't been to prison yet', he meant that he is potentially dishonest, or that his colleagues are trecherous or that his aunt is a criminal and he should be him a visit before too long or ...'.

"and"-reduction. It has been claimed (by Harnish) that the 'oddity' of:

"He likes peaches-and-cream"
-- Therefore, he likes peaches"

--- (or 'desires') is to be explained as a breach of 'informativeness' (rather than truthiness -- cfr. The invention of truthiness).


This may have some odd consequences -- but perhaps explained implicatural. "Smith is bisexual; ergo he is heterosexual and homosexual". "I desire a green shirt" "Therefore, I desire a yellow/blue shirt". Or something.

Grouse (Pronounced 'Grice')

Good Morning One, Good Morning All The Forex Market
If you didn't bag the odd grouse ( pronounced 'grice' by the gentry dontcha know), then tomorrow is the second day of the season.... Failing that you might ...
See all stories on this topic »

Implicature and "Implicature"

From online source:


"unintended implications". Rather: 'unintended 'implicatures''. As I like to say, a good thing about an implicature, unlike a child, is that an unwanted implicature is NOT one, but an unwanted child is STILL a child.


You've seen them on billboards, church marquees, and bathroom stalls: a pair of renegade quotation marks that ultimately results in an unfortunate, unintentional innuendo. You might think that a book comprised solely of photos of publicly displayed punctuation gaffes, accompanied by witty commentary, might get old after awhile. Well, you would be wrong.

The Book of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, based on the popular blog created by Bethany Keeley, features reader-contributed photos of these superfluous punctuation faux pas. The book's organized into categories like "At Work," "Social Graces," and "In the Bathroom," and Keeley provides funny commentary without being overly snarky. Even though the book repeats a different shade of the same joke over and over, the variations manage to seem wholly original when applied to different contexts. What self-respecting consumer of words could help from giggling after seeing a billboard that reads:

"Jesus" is Coming

Or, what about a customer feedback box from a national restaurant chain (I'm looking at you, Taco Bell) with a sign proclaiming:

"We Care." Please Let Us Know How You Feel

English is complex -- so what's the big deal if these avant-garde painters of language take the laws of grammar into their own hands and use the world's billboards, Post-it Notes, and sandwich boards as their canvases?

This is the big deal: Rules are rules, folks. Just like stop signs, speed limits, and laws that prohibit you from marrying your cousins, the regulations placed on the use of punctuation were created to benefit society as a whole. They exist so you don't unwittingly make fun of your own products, accidentally give the impression you're not being honest, or unintentionally dispute the existence of "the Lord." (See what I did there?)

Some might argue that only privileged people with soft hands have the time or energy to poke fun at the misuse of punctuation. Perhaps these bold folks going hog-wild with the quotation marks simply have more pressing things to worry about. Maybe so. They're trying to get people to buy their "soup," attend their "church," or simply just "flush" the toilet. They want emphasis and don't care how they go about achieving it.

Sorry, you syntax rebels, I'm taking the hardliner approach. We've got punctuation for a reason, and it's to fine-tune the sentiment behind our communication. Anyone with the wherewithal to own a business, buy billboard space, or design a product label should know better. Or use a proofreader. Google it. Something! If you break the rules, prepare to pay the price. (Which is being publicly shamed in this book.)

With that said, Keeley is fairly gentle. She focuses more energy poking fun at the absurdity of the unintended implications and less calling out the language skills of the perpetrators. Read it and chuckle with a good conscience, and think: Oh, that zany language of ours. Always up to "something. "

Boy chases away man who shot his dad with kitchen knife

From Quinion:

"The headline on the website of The Daily Caller of Miami - noted by
Susie Elins on Monday - seems to imply a multifunction weapon: "Boy
chases away man who shot his dad with kitchen knife.""

Embedded implicature: "Archeologist shoots dead rampaging polar bear"

Quinion, today:

"A similar confusion surrounds a headline that Don Wilkes found on
the website of the Vancouver Province on 5 August: "Archeologist
shoots dead rampaging polar bear"".

Embedded Implicature: "Police chase man killed by train" (BBC)

From Quinion's World Wide Words, today:

"The news ticker on the BBC site on Tuesday read "Police chase man
killed by train". This was not a report of post-mortem athleticism:
the first three words make up a noun phrase - the police chased a
man, who was then killed by a train. Thanks to everyone who sent
that in."

The Category of Truthiness

Further to Kramer's points on 'the invention of lying', etc.:

From the wiki:
"In satire, truthiness is a "truth" that a person claims to know intuitively "from the gut" without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.[1]

American television comedian Stephen Colbert revealed this definition[2] as the subject of a segment called "The Wørd" during the pilot episode of his political satire program The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005. By using this as part of his routine, Colbert satirized the misuse of appeal to emotion and "gut feeling" as a rhetorical device in contemporaneous socio-political discourse.[3] He particularly applied it to U.S. President George W. Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court and the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.[4] Colbert later ascribed truthiness to other institutions and organizations, including Wikipedia.[5] Colbert has sometimes used a quasi-Latin version of the term, "Veritasiness".[6] For example, in Colbert's "Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando" the word "Veritasiness" can be seen on the banner above the eagle on the operation's seal.

Truthiness, although a "stunt word", was named Word of the Year for 2005 by the American Dialect Society and for 2006 by Merriam-Webster.[7][8] However, linguist and OED consultant Benjamin Zimmer[2][9] pointed out that the word truthiness[10] already had a history in literature and appears in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), as a derivation of truthy, and The Century Dictionary, both of which indicate it as rare or dialectal, and to be defined more straightforwardly as "truthfulness, faithfulness".[2]
Adoption of the term by Colbert
Colbert chose the word truthiness just moments before taping the premiere episode of The Colbert Report on October 17, 2005, after deciding that the originally scripted word – "truth" – was not absolutely ridiculous enough. "We're not talking about truth, we're talking about something that seems like truth – the truth we want to exist", he explained.[11] He introduced his definition in the first segment of the episode, saying: "Now I'm sure some of the 'word police', the 'wordinistas' over at Webster's are gonna say, 'Hey, that's not a word'. Well, anybody who knows me knows I'm no fan of dictionaries or reference books. They're elitist. Constantly telling us what is or isn't true. Or what did or didn't happen."[4]

When asked in an out-of-character interview with The Onion's A.V. Club for his views on "the 'truthiness' imbroglio that's tearing our country apart", Colbert elaborated on the critique he intended to convey with the word:[3]

Truthiness is tearing apart our country, and I don't mean the argument over who came up with the word…
It used to be, everyone was entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. But that's not the case anymore. Facts matter not at all. Perception is everything. It's certainty. People love the President because he's certain of his choices as a leader, even if the facts that back him up don't seem to exist. It's the fact that he's certain that is very appealing to a certain section of the country. I really feel a dichotomy in the American populace. What is important? What you want to be true, or what is true?…

Truthiness is 'What I say is right, and [nothing] anyone else says could possibly be true.' It's not only that I feel it to be true, but that I feel it to be true. There's not only an emotional quality, but there's a selfish quality.

During an interview on December 8, 2006 with Charlie Rose,[12] Colbert stated:

'I was thinking of the idea of passion and emotion and certainty over information. And what you feel in your gut, (as I said in the first Wørd we did, which was sort of a thesis statement of the whole show – however long it lasts – is that sentence, that one word), that's more important to, I think, the public at large, and not just the people who provide it in prime-time cable, than information.'
On his April 2, 2009 episode of the Colbert Report, Colbert added an addendum to the definition: a word so straight that it drives men wild.

Coverage by news media. After Colbert's introduction to truthiness, it quickly became widely used and recognized. Six days after, CNN's Reliable Sources featured a discussion of The Colbert Report by host Howard Kurtz, who played a clip of Colbert's definition.[13] On the same day, ABC's Nightline also reported on truthiness, prompting Colbert to respond by saying: "You know what was missing from that piece? Me. Stephen Colbert. But I'm not surprised. Nightline's on opposite me…"[14]

Within a few months of its introduction by Colbert, truthiness was discussed in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekly, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune, Newsweek, CNN, MSNBC, the Associated Press, Editor & Publisher, Salon, The Huffington Post, Chicago Reader, CNET, and on ABC's Nightline, CBS's 60 Minutes, and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

The February 13, 2006 issue of Newsweek featured an article on The Colbert Report titled "The Truthiness Teller", recounting the career of the word truthiness since its popularization by Colbert.[10]

[edit] The New York Times coverage and usage
In its October 25, 2005 issue, eight days after the premiere episode of the Report, The New York Times ran its third article on The Colbert Report, "Bringing Out the Absurdity of the News".[15] The article specifically discussed the segment on "truthiness", although the Times misreported the word as "trustiness". In its November 1, 2005 issue, the Times ran a correction. On the next episode of the Report, Colbert took the Times to task for the error, pointing out, albeit incorrectly, that "trustiness" is "not even a word".[16]

In its December 25, 2005 issue, the New York Times again discussed "truthiness", this time as one of nine words that had captured the year's zeitgeist, in an article titled "2005: In a Word; Truthiness" by Jacques Steinberg. In crediting truthiness, Steinberg said, "the pundit who probably drew the most attention in 2005 was only playing one on TV: Stephen Colbert".[17]

In the January 22, 2006 issue, columnist Frank Rich used the term seven times, with credit to Colbert, in a column titled "Truthiness 101: From Frey to Alito",[18] to discuss Republican portrayals of several issues (including the Samuel Alito nomination, the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, and Jack Murtha's Vietnam War record). Rich emphasized the extent to which the word had quickly become a cultural fixture, writing, "The mock Comedy Central pundit Stephen Colbert's slinging of the word 'truthiness' caught on instantaneously last year precisely because we live in the age of truthiness." Editor & Publisher reported on Rich's use of "truthiness" in his column, saying he "tackled the growing trend to 'truthiness,' as opposed to truth, in the U.S."[19]

The New York Times published two letters on the 2006 White House Correspondents' Dinner, where Stephen Colbert was the featured guest, in its May 3, 2006 edition, under the headline "Truthiness and Power".[20]

Frank Rich referenced truthiness again in The New York Times in 2008, describing the strategy of John McCain's presidential campaign as being "to envelop the entire presidential race in a thick fog of truthiness."[21] Rich explained that the campaign was based on truthiness because "McCain, Sarah Palin and their surrogates keep repeating the same lies over and over not just to smear their opponents and not just to mask their own record. Their larger aim is to construct a bogus alternative reality so relentless it can overwhelm any haphazard journalistic stabs at puncturing it."[21] Rich also noted, "You know the press is impotent at unmasking this truthiness when the hardest-hitting interrogation McCain has yet faced on television came on 'The View'. Barbara Walters and Joy Behar called him on several falsehoods, including his endlessly repeated fantasy that Palin opposed earmarks for Alaska. Behar used the word “lies” to his face."[21]

Widespread recognition. A church sign stating, "Truthiness and Consequences", taken March 10, 2007, in Cape Coral, FloridaUsage of "truthiness" continued to proliferate in media, politics, and public consciousness. On January 5, 2006, etymology professor Anatoly Liberman began an hour-long program on public radio by discussing truthiness and predicting that it would be included in dictionaries in the next year or two.[22] His prediction seemed to be on track when, the next day, the American Dialect Society announced that "truthiness" was its 2005 Word of the Year, and the website of the Macmillan English Dictionary featured truthiness as its Word of the Week a few weeks later.[23] Truthiness was also selected by The New York Times as one of nine words that captured the spirit of 2005. Global Language Monitor, which tracks trends in languages, named truthiness the top television buzzword of 2006, and another term Colbert coined with reference to truthiness, wikiality, as another of the top ten television buzzwords of 2006, the first time two words from the same show have made the list. [24] [25]

On January 1, 2007, Lake Superior State University in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan released its annual list of words it wants banned from the English language. "Truthiness" was among them, along with other words like "awesome" and celebrity couple portmanteaus like "Brangelina" and "TomKat".[26] In response, on January 8, 2007 Colbert stated that Lake Superior State University was an "attention-seeking second-tier state university".[27] The 2008 List of Banished Words restored "truthiness" to formal usage, in response to the 2007-2008 Writers Guild of America strike.[28]

American Dialect Society's Word of the Year. On January 6, 2006, the American Dialect Society announced that "truthiness" was selected as its 2005 Word of the Year. The Society described its rationale as follows:

In its 16th annual words of the year vote, the American Dialect Society voted truthiness as the word of the year. First heard on The Colbert Report, a satirical mock news show on the Comedy Central television channel, truthiness refers to the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes or believes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true. As Stephen Colbert put it, "I don't trust books. They're all fact, no heart."[7]

Apparently after realizing that "truthiness" was found in the Oxford English Dictionary, the Society later changed the wording of this press release on their website, from "First heard on The Colbert Report" to "Recently popularized on the Colbert Report".

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Year. On December 10, 2006 the Merriam-Webster Dictionary announced that "truthiness" was selected as its 2006 Word of the Year on Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year, based on a reader poll, by a 5–1 margin over the second-place word google.[8] "We're at a point where what constitutes truth is a question on a lot of people's minds, and truth has become up for grabs", said Merriam-Webster president John Morse. "'Truthiness' is a playful way for us to think about a very important issue."[29] However, despite winning Word of the Year, the word does not appear in the 2006 edition of the Merriam-Webster English Dictionary. In response to this omission, during "The Wørd" segment on December 12, 2006 Colbert issued a new page 1344 for the tenth edition of the Merriam Webster dictionary that featured "truthiness". To make room for the definition of "truthiness," including a portrait of Colbert, the definition for the word "try" was removed with Colbert stating "Sorry, try. Maybe you should have tried harder." He also sarcastically told viewers to 'not' download the new page and 'not' glue it in the new dictionary in libraries and schools.

New York Times crossword puzzle. In the June 14, 2008 edition of The New York Times, the word was featured as 1-across in the crossword puzzle. Colbert mentioned this during the last segment on the June 18 episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and declared himself the "King of the Crossword".[30][31]

BBC "portrait of the decade". In December 2009, the BBC online magazine asked its readers to nominate suggestions of things to be included on a poster which would represent important events in the 2000s, divided into five different categories: "People", "Words", "News", "Objects" and "Culture". Suggestions were sent in and a panel of five independent experts shortened each category to what they saw as the 20 most important. Among the nominations selected in the "Words" category was "Truthiness". As a result, the word "Truthiness" appeared in the poster.[32]

Use in political and social commentary. James Frey controversy
The Chicago Tribune published an editorial in its January 16, 2006 issue titled "The Truthiness Hurts", crediting the rise of truthiness as serendipitously providing an apt description of the Oprah Book Club controversy over James Frey's fictionalized "memoir," A Million Little Pieces.[33] Truthiness was also used to describe the controversy over the factual accuracy of Frey's book by USA Today in its January 15, 2006 issue,[34] by several other publications including The New York Times, and by the television news program Nightline on its October 23 and January 26 editions.[35]

Oprah Winfrey also discussed truthiness with Frank Rich on her show, in reference to the Frey controversy and the column "Truthiness 101" Rich had recently published in the New York Times.[36] They also mentioned Colbert's role in making the word "truthiness".[37]

On January 27, MSNBC ran a commentary titled "Oprah strikes a blow for truthiness: Do facts really matter? Ask Winfrey, James Frey or Stephen Colbert", making the case that Winfrey's about-face on Frey's book was a "small (and belated) but bold nudge back out of the proud halls of truthiness", but also opportunistic and too little too late.[38]

In the Canadian Parliament. In 2006, Liberal Party of Canada leadership contender Ken Dryden used truthiness as an extensive theme in a speech in the House of Commons. The speech dealt critically with the current government's Universal Child Care Plan.[39] Dryden defined truthiness as "something that is spoken as if true that one wants others to believe is true, that said often enough with enough voices orchestrated in behind it, might even sound true, but is not true."

The transcript of all debates in the House (Hansard) is made available in both official languages; the translators into French chose to render "truthiness" as fausse vérité ("false truth").[39]

Alleged snubbing by the Associated Press, and Colbert's response
The Associated Press reported on the American Dialect Society's selection of truthiness as the Word of the Year,[40] including the following comments by one of the voting linguists:

Michael Adams, a professor at North Carolina State University who specializes in lexicology, said "truthiness" means "truthy, not facty". "The national argument right now is, one, "Who's got the truth?" and, two, "Who's got the facts?"", he said. "Until we can manage to get the two of them back together again, we're not going to make much progress."

On each of the first four episodes of the Report after the selection of truthiness as Word of the Year, Colbert lamented that news reports neglected to acknowledge him as the source of the word. On the first of these episodes, he added Michael Adams to his "On Notice" board, and Associated Press reporter Heather Clark, the author of the article, to his "Dead to Me" board.[41] On the third of these episodes, he ranked the AP at the top of the "Threat-Down",[42] one of few entries ever to gain the number one spot in place of bears. On the following episode he called Adams and asked for an apology. Though Adams never apologized, Colbert "accepted" his "apology", but failed to take him "off notice".

Associated Press response to Colbert
On January 13, the first day after the four-day run of criticism of the AP on the Report, the AP ran a story about The Colbert Report being upset about being snubbed by the AP, in an article titled "Colbert: AP the biggest threat to America".[43] As he has in the past, Colbert remained in character in an interview for the story, and used it to further the political satire of truthiness; excerpts of the story are:

"…When an AP story about the designation sent coast to coast failed to mention Colbert, he began a tongue-in-cheek crusade, not unlike the kind his muse Bill O'Reilly might lead in all seriousness."

"'It's a sin of omission…' Stephen Colbert told the AP on Thursday….'It's like Shakespeare still being alive and not asking him what Hamlet is about,' he said."

"The Oxford English Dictionary has a definition for 'truthy' dating back to the 1800s….'The fact that they looked it up in a book just shows that they don't get the idea of truthiness at all,' Stephen Colbert said Thursday. 'You don't look up truthiness in a book, you look it up in your gut.'"

"Though slight, the difference of Colbert's definition and the OED's is essential. It's not your typical truth, but, as The New York Times wrote, 'a summation of what [Colbert] sees as the guiding ethos of the loudest commentators on Fox News, MSNBC and CNN.'"

"Colbert, who referred on his program to the AP omission as a 'journalistic travesty,' said Thursday that it was similar to the much-criticized weapons of mass destruction reporting leading up to the Iraq War. 'Except,' he said, 'people got hurt this time.'"

On January 14, Clark herself responded in an article titled "Exclusive 'News'—I'm dead to Stephen Colbert".[44] She furthered the rise of "truthiness" in published English in conceding, "Truthiness be told, I never had seen The Colbert Report until my name graced its 'Dead to Me' board this week….But I will say that I watched Colbert's show for the first time…It was funny. And that's not just truthy. That's a fact."

Arianna Huffington
On January 31, 2006, Arianna Huffington used truthiness on the Huffington Post.[45] Huffington later appeared as a guest on the March 1, 2006, episode of The Colbert Report. She challenged Colbert on his claim that he had invented the word truthiness. During the interview, Colbert declared, "I'm not a truthiness fanatic; I'm truthiness' father." Huffington corrected him, citing Wikipedia, that he had merely "popularized" the term. Regarding her source, Colbert responded: "Fuck Them!"[46]

President George W. Bush
At the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, Colbert, the featured guest, described President Bush's thought processes using the definition of truthiness. Editor and Publisher used truthiness to describe Colbert's criticism of Bush, in an article published the same day titled "Colbert Lampoons Bush at White House Correspondents Dinner—President Not Amused?" E&P reported that the "blistering comedy 'tribute' to President Bush… left George and Laura Bush unsmiling at its close" and that many people at the dinner "looked a little uncomfortable at times, perhaps feeling the material was a little too biting—or too much speaking 'truthiness' to power".[47] E&P reported a few days later that its coverage of Colbert at the dinner drew "possibly its highest one-day traffic total ever", and published a letter to the editor asserting that "Colbert brought truth wrapped in truthiness".[48] On the same weekend, The Washington Post and others also referenced this.[49][50][51] Writing six months later in a column titled "Throw The Truthiness Bums Out", New York Times columnist Frank Rich called Colbert's after-dinner speech a "cultural primary" and christened it the "defining moment" of the United States' 2006 midterm elections.[52][53]

Charles Krauthammer
Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer brought the term up in a discussion about President Obama on the show Fox News All-Stars in June 2010, saying:

What we see here is conditional truthiness. When the administration needs to say, oh, we knew how bad it was, it says it, and when it needs to say we had no idea how bad it was, it says it. It depends when it needs it; it’ll invent a new truth.[54]
[edit] See also
Wikiality – another word coined by Colbert
Noble lie

1.^ Dick Meyer (December 12, 2006). "The Truth of Truthiness". CBS News. Retrieved December 14, 2006.
2.^ a b c Zimmer, Benjamin. "Language Log: Truthiness or Trustiness?". Retrieved June 4, 2006.
3.^ a b Nathan Rabin (January 26, 2006). "Interview: Stephen Colbert". A.V. Club. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
4.^ a b "The Colbert Report: Videos: The Word (Truthiness)". October 17, 2005. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
5.^ The Colbert Report / Comedy Central recording of The WØRD "Wikiality", Comedy Central, July 31, 2006.
7.^ a b "Truthiness Voted 2005 Word of the Year by American Dialect Society" (PDF). Retrieved June 4, 2006.
8.^ a b "Merriam-Webster's Words of the Year 2006". Merriam-Webster. Retrieved December 8, 2006.
9.^ "Benjamin Zimmer homepage". Retrieved June 4, 2006.
10.^ a b Marc Peyser (February 13, 2006). "The Truthiness Teller". Newsweek. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
11.^ Adam Sternbergh (October 16, 2006). "Stephen Colbert Has America by the Ballots". New York Magazine. Retrieved October 27, 2007.
12.^ Charlie Rose (December 8, 2006), "A conversation with comedian Stephen Colbert". Retrieved on August 14, 2008.
13.^ . It was also used September 23, 2008 by CNN's American Morning by John Roberts. Howard Kurtz (transcript) (October 23, 2005). "CNN Reliable Sources". CNN. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
14.^ "[D1RT: stephen colbert on..."]. Retrieved September 19, 2008.
15.^ Allesandra Stanley (October 25, 2005). "Bringing Out the Absurdity of the News". The New York Times. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
16.^ Many dictionaries (e.g. American Heritage, Merriam-Webster, New Oxford Dictionary of English, etc.) offer definitions for trustiness.
17.^ Steinberg, Jacques (December 25, 2005). "2005: In a Word: Truthiness". The New York Times. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
18.^ Rich, Frank (January 22, 2006). "Truthiness 101: From Frey to Alito". The New York Times. Retrieved December 26, 2008.
19.^ "'NY Times' Frank Rich Taking Book Leave". January 22, 2006. Retrieved January 23, 2006.
20.^ Gloria D. Howard; William M. Phillian (May 3, 2006). "Truthiness and Power". The New York Times. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
21.^ a b c Frank Rich (September 21, 2008). "Truthiness Stages a Comeback". The New York Times. Retrieved September 21, 2008.
22.^ "Where Words Come From". January 5, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
23.^ "Word of the Week Archive". Retrieved June 4, 2006.
24.^ ""Truthiness", "Wikiality" named TV words of year". Reuters. August 28, 2006.,,83376,00.html. Retrieved November 25, 2008.
25.^ "'Truthiness' and 'Wikiality' Named Top Television Buzzwords of 2006 Followed by 'Katrina', 'Katie,' and 'Dr. McDreamy'". Global Language Monitor. August 27, 2006. Retrieved August 28, 2006.
26.^ Lake Superior State University 2007 List of Banished Words
27.^ Colbert Report Episode 3001 (1/8/2006) overview
28.^ Lake Superior State University 2008 List of Banished Words
29.^ Adam Gorlick (December 8, 2006). "Colbert's 'truthiness' pronounced Word of the Year". AP/Houston Chronicle.
30.^ "Daily/Colbert – Crossword Puzzle" (video). Comedy Central. June 18, 2008. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
31.^ Parker, Rex (June 14, 2008). "Saturday, Jun . 14, 2008". Rex Parker does the NYT crossword puzzle (personal blog). Retrieved June 30, 2008.
32.^ "A portrait of the decade". BBC. December 14, 2009. Retrieved December 17, 2009.
33.^ Chicago Tribune editorial board (January 16, 2006). "The Truthiness Hurts". The Chicago Tribune.,1,4983997.story?ctrack=1&cset=true. Retrieved February 1, 2006.
34.^ Marco R. della Cava (January 15, 2006). "Truth falls to "Pieces" after suspect memoir". USA Today. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
35.^ Frank Rich (January 22, 2006). "Truthiness 101: From Frey to Alito". The New York Times.!Q5D0Q5DR1v. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
36.^ "The Oprah Winfrey Show (transcript)". January 26, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
37.^ David Carr (January 30, 2006). "How Oprahness Trumped Truthiness". The New York Times. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
38.^ Jon Bonné (January 27, 2006). "Oprah strikes a blow for truthiness". MSNBC. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
39.^ a b "Hansard". May 4, 2006. Retrieved October 16, 2007.
40.^ Heather Clark (January 1, 2006). "Honestly, "truthiness" is selected the word of 2005". The Seattle Times / Associated Press. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
41.^ "The Colbert Report: Videos: On Notice (A Glaring Omission)". Retrieved June 4, 2006.
42.^ "The Colbert Report: Videos: Threatdown". Retrieved June 4, 2006.
43.^ Jake Coyle (January 13, 2006). "Colbert: AP the biggest threat to America". CBS News / Associated Press. Retrieved November 7, 2006.
44.^ "Exclusive "News": I'm Dead to Stephen Colbert". January 14, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
45.^ "Will America's New Love Affair With the Truth Extend to Bush's SOTU Speech?". January 31, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
46.^ "The Colbert Report: Videos (Arianna Huffington)". March 1, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
47.^ E&P Staff (April 29, 2006). "Colbert Lampoons Bush at White House Correspondents Dinner—President Not Amused?". Editor and Publisher. Retrieved May 7, 2006.
48.^ E&P Staff (May 2, 2006). "Tuesday's Letters: Colbert Offensive, Colbert Mediocre, Colbert a Hero, Colbert Vicious, Colbert Brave". Retrieved June 4, 2006.
49.^ "Dept. of Truthiness: The Colbert Rapport". The Washington Post. March 30, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
50.^ Michael Scherer (May 1, 2006). "The truthiness hurts". Salon. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
51.^ "The Colbert Report: Morley Safer Profiles Comedy Central's "Fake" Newsman". March 30, 2006. Retrieved June 4, 2006.
52.^ Rich, Frank (November 5, 2006). "Throw the Truthiness Bums Out". The New York Times. Retrieved November 22, 2006.
53.^ Froomkin, Dan (November 7, 2006). "Bubble Trouble". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 22, 2006.
[edit] External links
Look up truthiness in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.

Listen to this article (info/dl). This audio file was created from a revision of Truthiness dated October 17, 2007, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (Audio help)
More spoken articlesVideo feed of Stephen introducing "Truthiness" on The Colbert Report
"Truthiness: a flash in the pan?", Benjamin Zimmer, Language Log
Macmillan Dictionary on truthiness
Global Language Monitor on Top Television Buzzwords

Grice and the Invention of Lying

Kramer concludes his commentary in previous post with:

"the question that prompts "I told the truth" almost always implicates "Did you tell the truth against your/my/our interest?" which is why the answer always implicates "against my/your/our interest," i.e., that the context was one in which lying might make sense."


Yes. I agree. I can think of MOTHER-CHILD exchanges or the story of the "Wolf! Wolf!". Mothers, or parents generally ('the people who are least qualified to have children', Oxford dict. of hum. quotations) seem to be obsessed with 'true' and so I CAN THINK of an 'ethical' survey on a child by a mother:

A: What did you tell them? (+> I hope you did not lie yet again).
B: What happened (+> as I saw it happen -- cfr. "What the butler saw").

A: What did you tell them?
B: The truth (+> as I saw it).

This in connection with Kramer's point betweein 'speak the truth' which can be inadvertent, and 'TELL the truth'.

Enough to want to coin truthiness.

Information-Seeking Routines and the Invention of Lying

Vis a vis the two dialogues by Kramer, he comments:

"That same implicature might arise in context where the question implies that the asker wonders whether U told the truth, and in such a case "I told them what happened" is a perhaps meiotic version of "I told the truth against my/your/our interest." But if there is no such implicature in the question, there is no correlative implicature in answering "I told them what happened.""

Excellent point.

A: What did you tell them?
B: i. I told them what happened.
----- A: I knew that! I mean: what exactly did you tell them?
B: Oh! That Smith ate a sandwich.

A: What did you tell them?
B: The truth.
A: Meaning...?
B: That Smith ate a sandwich.

Or something.

At this point one may wonder how UNINFORMATIVE B can be. Dascal, in "Conversational Relevance" has the example:

PRIEST to prisoner: Why did you rob the bank, my son?
PRISONER: 'Cause that's where the dough is.


"What did you tell them?", in ordinary circumstances, seem to ask for a specification of the propositional content that both "What happened" and "The truth" fail to do? Or something.

The Invention of Lying: Otiose?

Kramer, in "The Invention of Lying" writes:

Q. What did you tell them?
A. I told them what happened.
Q. What did you tell them?
A. I told the truth.
In the second version, there is an implicature that U might have chosen to lie..."

Excellent point -- which reminds me of Frank Plumpton Ramsey.

He thought, as did Strawson later on, and Grice was seduced by this at some point -- that 'true' as Kramer remarks in his capsule of the film under discussion, 'Invention of Lying' HOLDS -- i.e. lying IS a cultural invention, in that in this society that the film portrays there were, Kramer notes, no word for 'true' or 'false'.

This may be behind Ramsey's great insight that 'true' IS redundant. He would play with variants on the dialogues above:

A: What did you tell them
--- What happened.
--- the truth.
--- other.

Grice consider this in a couple of pages (literally -- TWO pages) in WoW, "Truth", in Lecture III ("Further notes on logic and conversation"). As I recall, his example is:

The policeman said that monkeys talked. Or that monkeys could talk.

He wants to stick to a given propositional content, "Monkeys talk", or "Monkeys can talk". In the example by Kramer above, we would have:

"He ate a sandwich"

may do:

A: What did you tell them?
-- i. That Smith ate a sandwich.

This is different from 'what happened'. In that 'what happened happened', but 'what happened was that Smith ate a sandwich.

Now Tarski apparently had a problem with this. Grice discusses this. For Tarski wants to analyse:

"Smith ate a sandwich" is true if Smith ate a sandwich.

--- Hardly illuminating, and unable to account for the predicate 'true' in UNASSERTED contexts, as I think Grice calls them -- precisely Kramer's cases:

"What happened"

"the truth".


Grice's example:

"What the policeman said was truth."

Suppose is the Sheriff asking the cop:

Sherrif: What did you tell them?
Police: "Monkeys can talk".

Grice wants to be able to analyse 'true' in unasserted contexts, or where there is no specification of WHAT is supposed to be the case for a true statement to hold.

"What the policeman said was true".


This, apparently, is a bother to symbolise formally. And pretty otiose, "If, upon inquiry, I come to learn that what the policeman said was, "Monkeys can talk", I withdraw the statement."


Grice seems to be wanting to explore what the grounds are for things like:

"What the policeman said was true"

"Perhaps we work on the assumption that everything that policemen say -- or everything that THIS policeman says -- is true."


In any case, back to the Sheriff:


Sheriff: So what did you tell them?
Police: That Smith ate a sandwich.

Grice wants to take into account the point by Strawson on the 'implicature' of adding, 'true':


Sheriff: And that is the true thing to say.
--- or: It is true that Smith ate a sandwich.

Grice wants to compare the briefer:

i. Smith ate a sandwich (which reports a fact)


ii. It is true that Smith ate a sandwich. (first occurrence of 'predicate' "true" with merely an implicatural effect, which is the one pointed out by Kramer at the quote at the beginning of this post).

Ramsey, Strawson, and Grice would want to agree that what 'true' adds is 'implicatural' -- and that strictly, the predicate 'is' otiose. Or something.

Truth-Telling and Make-Believe

Kramer in comment on "Invention of Lying":

"in idiomatic English, one "tells the truth" only when one says what one correctly believes is so in a case where lying is an option."

Excellent piece of what Grice would have as 'linguistic botanising'.


Oddly, make-belief is another (piece) there. It seems people, in idiomatic English, use 'make-belief' as in make-believe-WRONG. So we seem to have a case where what perhaps was an 'implicatum' at some point -- of the conversational kind -- became 'conventionalised' or 'idiomatic'. Or something.

Grice and Baker on weakness of the will

Just a note re: the commentary on "Feel free!" as we discuss with J various points about 'disjunctional' thinking, etc. I refer to this study by Grice and Baker (in Hintikka/Vermazen) in that commentary. Cheers!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Grice's Choice

--- Or Sophie's choice rather.

Suppose that Sophie goes to a brothel (a male brothel). She has to choose the person (male) she finds most attractive, sexually, to have sex with. This is in some exotic country. Sophie is however a bit of a puritan. So for some reason, while she finds A the most sexually attractive, she picks B.

---- I would say that in such a scenario it is difficult to test. I would think that she possibly DOES find B more sexually attractive than A. The very fact that she chose him is all a 'functionalist' cares.

-- There may be less contrived examples.

But in any case, there is a sort of self-defeatist, unverificationist, nature about 'choosing'.

I tend to think that whatever I do, I choose to do. As J notes, "not robbing a bank" is important. A lot of the things we do (or fail to do) is things we choose NOT to do. And we should get a lot of credit for that. They are called omissions. We omit to rob, etc. --

I would like to analyse what actions are "within choice", as it were. A transexual may choose to be a lady (a born male) and succeed, within limits. Or vice versa. So, that's something he (or she) chose.

Liking Mozart is more of a trick. I don't (or rather my mother doesn't) like Mozart. I ask her that she should CHOOSE to like Mozart. She finds the request otiose.


Possibly all choices are alternatives. It's always between "A" and "~A". Rather than between A and B and C.

True, in a disjunction, we do get p v q v r ...

But the strict form of a disjunction is

"p v q" -- an alternative.

It may be said that

p v q v r

really stands for

(p v q) v r


Grice considers or-thinking at length in Method in philosophical psychology. An eagle lurking as he chooses to kill a rabbit or a mouse is or-thinking. He is about to choose.


It is true that the Griceian creature-construction routine SOUNDS behaviouristic, and it may not convince J (who dislikes B. Skinner). But it need not.


"decide" and "choose" J prefers to refer to by 'volition'. But I'm not sure.

I would think that the basic block is

--- accepts that ---.

Accepts to have a strong tea, rather than weak tea.

"Weak or strong?"


She wills that her tea be strong.
versus she wills that her tea NOT be strong (but weak).

At one point something triggers the 'decision' on her:

"Weak or strong?"


In a way that's a stupid question. "Weak tea" does not really count as 'tea' (but more like a wishy-washy hot liquid) and strong tea can be horrible.


"Trick or treat?"

Since this is clever, we will simplify that as:

"Trick or not trick?"


With that trigger, the agent shows that she wills 'trick'.

Her system created a circumstance such that, one path was 'chosen'. Perhaps she JUST 'said' "trick" without thinking much. A lot of decisions are made on the fact that the formulation is 'tricky' ("Trick or treat?"). A more normal way to ask this, if one thinks of the answers it gets, is "Treat or Trick?".


In fact, it is a conditional:

"If no treat --> trick"

But not that the contraposition does not hold:

"no trick --> no treat"



Another example of 'choosing' is the marrying ceremony:

"Do you accept this as your man?"


By uttering Yes, she chooses to become "Mrs. Smith". True, this is loaded in that statistically, "No" answers are not really 'expected'.


It's not like she is going to CHOOSE to become Mrs. Smith at THAT time.


They say December is the time for choices and resolutions. Usually they should be 10. Ten New Year resolutions for the Grice Club will be issued by Dec. 31.

---- They will be properly formalised in PCI (predicate calculus with identity).



Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Toby's Choice

I did retrieve part of the Toby story. It relates to what J and I call "Sophie's Choice" (What kind of hamburger). This is from Grice's "Conception of Value" (Appendix). Grice is trying to focus, as J and I do, on '... wills that...' (we assume that 'will' involves 'free' -- and the point is whether a free will is ill will or good will, further). Etc.

1. Toby, the squarrel has nuts in front of him.


2. The squarrel is short on squirrel-food
(observed or assumed).


3. The squarrel wants (wills, wishes, desires)
squirrel-food (By Psychological Postulate,
connecting 'wish' with intake of nuts)


4. The squarrel prehends nuts as in front
(From (1) by Psychological Postulate, if
it is assumed that 'nuts' and 'in front'
are familiar to the squarrel)


5. The squarrel joins squirrel-food with gobbling
and nuts and in front (The squirrel judges
gobbling, on nuts, in front, for squarrel-food)
(by Psychological Postulate, with the aid of
prior observation), so by Psychological Law,
from 3, 4, and 5:



6. The squarrel gobbles, and since nuts _are_
in front of him, gobbles the nuts in front of

H. P. Grice, 'Method in philosophical
psychology: from the banal to the
bizarre', Proceedings of the American
Philosophical Association, Presidential
Address, vol. 48. Repr. in his book,
_The Conception of Value_. Oxford:
Clarendon, p. 137.

Or something.

Grice and the Invention of Lying

I should possibly see this film. Kramer has commented on it in Re: Free for lunch.

Indeed, in a word without 'lying' the idea of 'truth' seems otiose, too. I'm not THAT sure, though. Because there is the concept of 'false' that somehow fits in between.

False can be some 'p', where no 'intention' really is operative.

So, one can LIE by telling the truth -- providing what one tells is what one THINKS is false. If it comes out, by accident, to be 'true', then while one IS lying (because one is saying what one thinks is not true) one is still saying what IS true.


Honesty is the best policy, and the point about how 'wrong' lying is is interesting, as I see it reported by Kramer re: "The Invention of Lying".


In the Romance languages, 'mentire' (to lie) is not too exorbitantly different from 'mentare', to mean. I'm never sure why such a connection. It seems as if 'to lie' (mentire) and 'to mean' (mentare) are in the opposite extremes, but hey.


Grice is clear about this in "Ways of Words". He writes:

"It is much easier, for example, to tell the truth than to invent lies"

(WoW, p. 29).

Of course I'm not sure. Grice's point is 'phylogenetical', or 'ontogenetical' rather. Why do babies lie? When do they START lying.

If a baby wants to pee, he pees. There is no lying about it. Once there is some sort of control over things, a baby can lie.

"Are you hungry?"

"No, I'm not" -- when Baby IS hungry (a lie).


It would seem then, that, in primitive (or very young) creatures, they cannot lie. As Sir John Lyons says, 'prevarication' is the signal of language (bees cannot lie as they dance). The absence of 'lying' at the point is 'causal' factive.

"p" ENTAILS 'p'.

If Baby blushes, it means Baby is embarrassed. (You cannot feign, ceteris paribus, a blush).


So, when is LYING 'instituted'?

This is Grice"

Why do we not lie?

"A DULL but, no doubt at a certain level, adequate
answer is that it is just a well-recognised
empirical fact that people [do tell the truth]. They
learned to do so in childhood and have not lost
the habit of doing so; and indeed, it would involve
a good deal of effort to make a radical departure
from the habit. It is much easier, for example, to
tell the truth than to invent lies."


Grice is unnecessarily (for our purposes) emphatic when he says, "invent" lies. I'm interested in

"p" "~p"

p is the case
p is not the case.


"Are you hungry?"


"No" may be a lie -- but it's not much of an invention. Or a big invention.

In a way, it's like IRONY.

"Are you a virgin? (to a well-known prostitute).
"Yes!" (ironically, meaning, NO).


Not a lot of invention of irony, there.


So, one has to be careful.

In the case of the "Invention of Lying", qua film, I wouldn't know. I wouldn't know how to draw the boundary between immoral and moral cases of lying. In the old days, they used to speak of 'white' lies -- -- which of course Kant opposed.

Grice refers to the absolute prohibition (on the part of Kant) on lying in "Aspects of Reason", and he (Grice) seems NOT to agree with it.


Leech quotes an adage, "Honesty is the best policy, says I", but I would need to find the source.


The fact that Grice speaks of this under "Qualitas" can only confuse. Truth is NOT at the level of 'quantity' of information. Qualitas, as used by Kant, and Aristotle, referred to 'affirmatio' or 'negatio'. But Grice is trying to be witty and wants to have a special category for this type of level of requirement about our conversational moves. "The category of quality".

When I generalised the categories -- for my PhD, etc -- I used 'trustworthiness', rather than truth. I wanted to generalise to conversational moves which are NOT assertive -- such as:

"Give it to me!"


The move, "give it to me" (the ball, as they are playing volley, say) is TRUSTWORTHY if the utterer desires what his or her conversational move 'means' --. I wouldn't say that "Give it to me!" is FALSE if the utterer does not want 'it' be given to the utterer. So we need to generalise.

Luckily, trust and truth ARE cognate, so it's not much of a divergence.

Searching the Minutes of the Grice Club

Thanks to L. J. Kramer for input. He notes the search function isn't working. Apparently it does work from my side. I'll check again and report if it doesn't check for me. I'll try to do the search I was suggesting that it be done re: Tobby eating nuts and report.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


From wiki, 'Buridan's ass' quoting from Spinoza:

"[I]t may be objected, if man does not act from free will, what will happen if the incentives to action are equally balanced, as in the case of Buridan's ass? [In reply,] I am quite ready to admit, that a man placed in the equilibrium described (namely, as perceiving nothing but hunger and thirst, a certain food and a certain drink, each equally distant from him) would die of hunger and thirst. If I am asked, whether such an one should not rather be considered an ass than a man; I answer, that I do not know, neither do I know how a man should be considered, who hangs himself, or how we should consider children, fools, madmen, &c."

Spinoza Speranza

Feel Free!

I think J is overstating the point about freedom. J says we need a reincarnation of William James, etc.

Or perhaps a reincarnation of Buridan's ass!

Free for lunch

Chapman notes (her Palgrave book on Grice, p. 175):

"In a few concluding paragraphs [of 'Actions and Events'] Grice turns to what he sees as the essential link between action and freedom."

"The link is treated briefly and cautiously in this published work, but was in fact a major concern in his thinking about value."

"Grice's notes from the early 1980s show him

applying the familiar techniques of

'linguistic botanising' to the concept

of freedom. He jotted down phrases such as

'alcohol-free', 'free for lunch', 'free-wheeling',

and listed many possible definitions, including

'liberal', 'acting without restriction' and

'frank in conversation' (NOTE)."

"Richard Warner has commented that their
discussions in preparation for the third
Carus lecture were concerned almost exclusively
with freedom as a source of value, and that he
himself encouraged Grice to pursue this
line of inquiry rather than that of
creature construction as being the more
interesting and productive."


"Essentially, Grice saw in the nature of

action a means of justifying the problematic

concept of FREEDOM ..."


"Some actions are caused by influences
external to a body."

"Next, actions may have causes that
are internal to the body."

"a 'freely-moving' body."


"Then there are casuse that are
both internal and independently



"Finally, there is a stage
eclusive of human creatures
at which the creature's conception
of something as being for its
own good is SUFFICIENT to
initiate the creature in
performing an action."

Grice writes: "It is a this stage

that rational activity and intentions

appear on the scene".


Chapman notes: "The particular nature of

human action suggests the necessity of


Recall that Chapman teaches English at Liverpool, so we can't say this is HER problem. But she guesses VERY RIGHT.

Chapman goes on:

"Humans act for reasons." These reasons "may be FREELY ADOPTED

for their own sake."


"In Grice's terms,
the particular type of freedom
demanded by the nature
of human action 'would ensure
that some actions may be represented
as directed to ends which are not merely MINE,
but which are FREELY ADOPTED
or pursued by me'".


"A consideration of action suggests the
necessity of freedom."


Chapman concludes: "The concept of freedom
may offer another version of the argument
that value exists because valuers exist."



J makes very good points about 'willing' (free will) in the commentary on "philosophical psychology" and how it 'evolved' from Ryle to Grice.

I agree with J that the ISSUE is in 'deciding'.

Oddly, very few philosophers of Grice's group dwelt on that. Perhaps P. H. Nowell-Smith -- a minor genius, who died last year. And D. F. Pears, another minor genius, who ALSO died last year.

Smith (the Nowell- is artistic) did write on 'free will' early in his career, and his "Ethics" is a gem. Antedating Grice in so many respects. Nowell-Smith would invite us to reconsider talk on 'choosing'.

As J writes, Sue cannot choose between being hungry or not. A taco or a burger maybe. So we need to analyse different types of 'choosing' and the 'mechanist' monster, as it were (i.e. how to make 'choosing' compatible with 'determinism' of some sort -- if at all).

Pears did write on 'predicting and deciding' in his British Academy Lecture, which predated Grice's explorations on this in his "Intention and Uncertainty" (another British Academy Lecture).

Yet, it seems there is a lot of 'behaviourism' in our talk on 'choices'.

"Sophie's Choice". Choice to think? More like choice to act. The idea that I do NOT choose to believe that it is raining (when it is) seems pretty otiose.


My sort of defense of behaviourism was meant to show J that I do take behaviourism seriously. Not so much the American variety Watson through Skinner, but Ryle -- which as I say, is the immediate antecessor of the Oxonian group to which Grice belonged.

Let us recall that Grice's group ('the play group') was led by Austin, born in 1911. Nobody could be older than Austin. Ryle, having been born in 1900, did not qualify. So it is EASY to speak of 'schools of Oxford thought' in this regard.

For some reason, Oxford holds a Wilde Readership in the Philosophy of Mind, which has been quite influential for the development of 'philosophical psychology'.

I don't know of any Oxonian cartesian, though. It seems that nobody wanted to dwell on the ghost in the machine.

Let's recall that whatever we find of philosophical substance in cogn-sci comes from the sort of Oxford school -- Dennett was Ryle's student at Oxford, -- and of course Searle was even a younger Rhodes scholar who had Strawson (Grice's tutee) as DPhil supervisor.

So whatever Searle, Dennett, and most American philosophers of mind got, they got from the so-called "School of Ordinary Language Philosophy".

Stich and the Churchlands tried to impose their own different tradition, but I'm not sure they succeeded.

When it comes to Ontology, it is good to be reminded of what Grice calls "Ontological Marxism" (online). "If they work, they exist". He means entities. Odd that this is a stretch from Occam's razor. But not quite. So, he is willing to say that we can transmogrify the correlatum of a psychological predicate (like '... willing that ...'). Grice proposes two variants -- as ways of introducing such entities: Ramsified Naming and Ramsified Descriptions.

So, while not rehabilitating 'dualism', at all, he is playing with the idea of not to be too afraid about postulating entities which are correlata to our psychological talk.

The issue may be 'explanatory'. Do willings and choices EXPLAIN action? We hope so.

Sophie's choice.

She chose between a taco and a burger. She chose the taco.

Her choosing EXPLAINS her eating the taco.

What are the behavioural output of her choosing the taco? Her eating the taco. What are the antecedents of her choosing the taco? Her perceiving that the taco looked more appetising.

Yet, there is a world of difference between saying that all we have is Sophie's perceptual input and her behavioural output, and Grice's functionalist picture (Block, in is influential collection of essays in the philosophy of mind agrees the caracterisation offered here of Grice as a functionalist).


The difference is a matter of what is within the scope of an existential quantifier. There is a 'choice' by Sophie. It is this 'choice' or willing that bridges Sophie's perception ('the taco is more appetising than the burger') and behaviour (she eats the taco).


Monday, August 9, 2010

The evolution of 'philosophical psychology': from Ryle to Grice

If you try to study the 'philosophy of mind' (or philosophical psychology, as Grice prefers) of the Oxford Play Group to which Grice belonged (Grice, Austin, Strawson, Hampshire, Hare) you fail --. I do have Pears, "Questions in the philosophy of mind" (He was also a member of the group) and Hamsphire, "Philosophy of mind" volume, and a few others --. The opus magnum by Grice here is "Method in philosophical psychology". But there is nothing really that UNIFIES THEM.

In "Method" Grice refers to Ryle. Ryle, as per "The concept of mind", was labelled a 'behaviourist' or 'analytic behaviourist'. No ghost in the machine, and the rest of it. But what are Grice's criticisms?

Grice's criticisms are subtle. He does not find a good argument FOR 'analytic' behaviourism. It's not that Grice wants to rehabilitate dualism. Rather, Grice proposes to treat 'psychological concepts' as theoretical concepts. His approach follows proposals by D. K. Lewis, and before him, Aristotle ("De anima").

So, the behaviourist (under which label we can also place Wittgenstein, that Grice quotes quite a bit in "Method" -- "no psychological predicate without the behaviour that manifests it" -- from "Philosophical Investigations") is claiming that there is no need to EXPLAIN psychological concepts because there are no such.

Alla Paul, "Is there a problem about sense data?". Is there a problem about 'the concept of mind'. Only if you are confused.

The type of proposal by Grice is labelled 'functionalist', rather, alla D. K. Lewis and Aristotle. It is based on the Turing black box thing. There are

perceptual input ------ i.


behavioural output ---- o

In between, there is the black box, which Grice symbolises by



"Ψ" is a psychological predicate. The logic is dyadic. Sort of. Consider:

"... believes ..."

or as Grice prefers, '... accepts ...' (he wants a concept that is general enough to stand for 'believes' and 'desires').

'... accepts ...' holds between an agent, A,

so that Ψ becomes


but that's one argument. If it's dyadic there must be another argument. Here Grice introduces the 'that'-clause. What follows "... acccepts". John accepts that the cat is on the mat.

This yields the form of a psychological ascription (the ascription of a propositional attitude or psychological attitude in Russellian parlance) to be:


But this is the 'propositional' logic level. We need to consider 'predicate logic'. "The cat is on the mat" (Ex)Cx & Mx.

So, the minimal propositional or psychological ascription becomes:

ΨA(Ex)Cx & Mx.

But you knew that!


Once we are able to work with these formulae, we see the corollaries. If an utterer utters, "The cat is on the mat" (or the king of France is bald) he presupposes or implicates that he believes there is a cat (or a king of France). So we can play with these sort of 'folk-psychological' laws:

ΨA(Ex)Cx & Mx ---> ΨA(Ex)Cx

and so on.

Or consider

A accepts that p
A accepts that if p, q
Therefore, A accepts q.

The way to go here is via principles of that sort alla Loar, Mind and Meaning, or Harman, Principles of Reasoning -- both Griceans, they.


At this point, we see that the larger ontological issue is only of mere academic concern for Grice. His proposal requires that we are able to work with psychological attitudes of a certain rich, or rather fine-grained, type.

Skinner's, or Watson's, or Ryle's type of behaviourism would not foot the bill in that respect.

Grice was enough of a naturalist NOT to be want to disassociate 'mind' from the rest -- so anything like Chomsky's "Cartesian Linguistics" and dualisms as such were a no-no.

By the time Chomsky tried to keep up with philosophers of mind, philosophers of mind were into very convoluted types of type-token identity theories alla Smart -- that Grice also considers. In this respect, Grice comes out as a non-reductionist. And so, his criticisms of Ryle's and other types of behaviourism strikes back with a vengeance.

But Grice's rejection of 'monism' (or behaviourism) remains methodological. He wants to say that if a folk-psychological theory 'instantiates' generalisations where the psi-operator occurs, this means that there IS a level of psychological explanation that is NOT, merely, a physicalist explanation of the type that the behaviourist is committed to.

Grice will also want to say that most behaviourists are NOT physicalist enough. He would mention that most descriptions of 'behaviour' are already 'loaded' with 'psychological' notions. "He approached me". "He moved towards me". -- is one of his examples. From Wittgenstein. Even our 'behaviourist' talk is imbued with psychologis. Or so Grice thought.

The panorama vis a vis Morris, Peirce, and "Unified Science", would perhaps present yet another problem with Grice. And he would ultimately recourse to issues like the ones mentioned by J -- we don't want 'robots'. We need free-willing agents and so on. At this point he would use 'practical arguments' to show that a mechanical reduction is the standard rejection of libertarianism. But we need libertarianism. Practical arguments are for Grice metaphysical arguments. Or rather, metaphysical arguments deal with the practical side of our thought products. Just because we don't want to commit to mechanism, we prove, eschatologically, that mechanism is a sort of minimalism that we need not buy. Supposing they were selling it. Or something.

The Implicature of Desire: Grice and Freud ("He implicated, "Sex"")

Sigmund Freud would have agreed with Grice's points in "Logic and Conversation". Perhaps he would have had a few extra maxims thrown in.

The problem with Freud is that he never studied philosophy seriously! He was a physician! He tried to look for the 'science' of psychopathological reflections, to echo J's wording.

Surely there is no science for that. The Id knows NO LAWS. At least not the easy laws that Freudians speak about.

Then, Freud confuses between 'intention' and 'meaning' and the rest of them. There may be a sexual pulsion, or instinct, or force, in all we say, but surely,

"I love the way you smile"

does NOT mean anything more than what the U says by uttering it.

Freudian slips abound. We have,

"My mother was a nurse" -- The utterer meant that he is a passive-aggressive type.

"Bonaparte was never defeated" -- means that the utterer is a lunatic.

"I'm a lunatic" means that the utterer is NOT a lunatic (Quinton, "The point about madness is that you cannot conceptualise it").


"When he said, 'pipe', he meant 'phallus'".

Lacan is the laughing stock here, because he wants to compose a 'grammar of desire' -- with the "Id" talking to us in a code that only the psycho-analyst handles. So that by having the implicatural reflection via transference the patient gets cured. Baloney! By which Grice means, 'baloney'.

Or not.

Sade: The Implicatures


"Not "this implicature suggests sadistic impulses," or something."

Well, he does say, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Or refudiates too much, shall we say?

The Generality of Implicature

But it would be misleading to think that the divergences of the formal devices and their natural counterparts (as the opening passage of "Logic and Conversation" has it) is the issue of implicature. Implicature was offered as a panacea for philosophical problems in general. Not to much to correct speech. But to correct a PHILOSOPHER's 'philosophical' manoeuvre. Strawson was ARGUING that the 'sense' of "if" is given NOT by the truth-table but by something else. Austin was claiming similar things regarding other locutions. Hare, regarding 'good'. Hart regarding 'carefully'. It's all listed in the Prolegomena to "Logic and Conversation". The fun is that they were ALL Oxonian philosophers of Grice's generation. So it's not like Grice's crusade was against Plato, or Hegel, or Kant. Just his friends, from around the corner!

The Way of Grice's Words

We are considering if Grice's speech is typical of English. After all, 94% of English speakers use 'if' UNLIKE Grice wants us to use it via 'explicature'.

Surely, that's an empirical issue. I would think we may need to consider for each operator:


the 'metiers' they are supposed to fulfil. The metier of 'if' extends the truth-table of 'if'. So Grice is willing to say that it's more like a 'division of labour'. We SAY things; we implicate (OTHER) things.

He just got irritated when, of all people, his student, Strawson (as he then was) got into 'what is explicated' part of what Grice thought should rather be left 'implicated'.

When Strawson modified his position and thought the issue imported the 'conversational' vs. 'conventional' implicature fringe, it was too late. Grice was onto other things -- the conception of value.

Teaching Logic to An Infant

--- Don't!

The Implicatures of Sex: Bio-Linguistics Revisited

J is right that there is a lot of Freud in Grice.

We have to consider 'language games'. And 'survival'. As Grice notes, to reach the level of 'conversation' we are talking of 'talking pirots' (or parrots). Surely more primitive pirots don't need to "TALK".

So we have to consider the functions of language. For Grice there are two: to express a belief ("The cat is on the mat!") or to express a desire ("clean the mess he did on it!").

There have been various classifications of functions of speeech. Most biological functions do NOT require speech. For Grice, the function is 'exchange of information'. Surely there is a lot of 'phatic' communication going on in places -- like pubs, etc., which is not to be accountable, logically, as 'exchange of information'.

There is a theory of language evolution that compares language to gesture and the 'need' to socialise.


The issue then arises: why implicature. I mean, if communication is exchange of information, why implicate? What bothers me particularly is that implicatures are by definition 'cancellable'.

"There's a garage round the corner -- I said that, but I never meant to suggest that it would be open and with petrol to sell."


It seems that when come to grits, language can do WITHOUT implicature. Implicature is a 'touch of class'. Surely Winston Churchill or Chamberlain could not have declared the war on Germany 'by implicature'. This is "Things do do with words" by Austin with a vengeance.