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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Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Genealogy of Disjunction


I know it's old news, but it was in Friday's New York Times, and I thought it Griceian enough. James Gorman writes at
[i.] A study of howler monkeys found that to gain a mating advantage, species evolved either to make very-low frequency sound, or have much larger testicles, but none had both.
In Griceian logical terms:
ii. p w q
Now, Griceians speak of the 'myth' of exclusive disjunction, so the logical form is rather:
iii. p v q
-- with the idea of exclusion merely a conversational implicature. Of course Gorman (whose surname, "not for nothing" -- to use one of Geary's favourite phrases; I learned it from him; I used to say, "not for anything" -- but he retorted: "Double negatives won't bite," figuratively -- starts with a "G", like Grice -- and Geary) has read his Grice (or his Geary) and has CANCELLED that implicature, explicitly via the use of
iv. 'either'
and crucially
v. "but none had both".
Now, the use of the past, 'had' in (v) may alert Popper. For he has written about evolution, and it may be that (v) is merely an empirical discovery (Popper's first Austrian book was translated with the word 'discovery' in its title). In which case, it can safely be refudiated.



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