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, November 29, 2015

Grice on Griceian language


Philosophers -- especially Witters! -- use 'language' too broadly. I dunno 'bout Carnap! (But I have an appointment at the Carnap Corner with someone).

In a paragraph of his "Meaning Revisited", Grice follows a strategy that Bennett will follow in his "Language". What Grice is up to is how to provide a 'rational reconstruction' and evolutionary at that, of what 'language' should be for Grice and for a Griceian.

Grice writes:

"In some cases, the artificial communication devices might have certain other features too, over and above the one of being artificial: they might, for example, involve a finite number of fundamental, focal, elementary, root devices, and a finite set of modes or forms of combination (combinatory  operations, if you like) which are capable of being used over  and over again. In these cases, the creatures will have, or be near to having,  what some people thought to be characteristic of a language: namely: a communication system with a finite set of initial devices, together with semantic provisions for them, and a finite set  of different syntactic operations or combinations, and an understanding of what  the functions of those modes of combination are. As a result, they can generate an INFINITE number of sentences or complex  communication devices, together with a correspondingly infinite set of  things to be communicated, as it were. So, by proceeding in this teleological kind of way, we seem to have provided some provided some rationale for the kind of characterization of speaker's meaning which I went for long ago, and also for the characterization of various kinds of communication systems, culminating in things which have features which are ordinarily supposed (more or less correctly, I would imagine) to be the features of a fully developed language."

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