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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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

How to undo things with disimplicature


Over the last five decades, philosophers of language have looked into the mechanisms for doing things with words. The same attention has not been devoted to how to undo those things, once they have been done. This paper identifies and examines three strategies to make one’s speech acts undone—namely, Annulment, Retraction, and Amendment. In annulling an act, a speaker brings to light its fatal flaws. Annulment amounts to recognizing an act as null, whereas retraction and amendment amount to making it null. Speakers employ retraction to cancel the deontic updates engendered by a given act. They instead use amendment to adjust its degree of strength. I will argue that annulling, retracting, and amending are second-order speech acts, whose felicity conditions vary with the type of illocution they operate on. Undoing is therefore conceived of as a form of doing. Furthermore, I claim that, in calling off our acts, we undo the conventional or illocutionary effects of our words while leaving intact their past causal or perlocutionary outcomes.

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