[hist-analytic] Grice and Grice: Quasi-Contracts and Pacts
jlsperanza at aol.com
jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Jan 2 15:44:24 EST 2010
Grice and Pseudo-Grice: Quasi-Contracts and Pseudo-Pacts
Thanks to S. R. Bayne, as always, for his provocative posts. That's a
delightful line of research you are onto: Rawls, Dworkin, Hart, and Austin! (By
Austin, I mean John Austin, but more on this below).
When I was doing search (I never say 're-search'; it sounds slightly
over-important) on Grice in the Philosopher's Index data bank, I recall being
delighted at some secondary bibliography on Grice and contract (i.e. essays
keyworded as "Grice" and "contract").
It turned out, of course, hence the title of this post, that it was the
_wrong_ Grice, as it were: G. Russell Grice, of the Philosophy Department of
University of East Anglia, Norwich, England. Anyway, this man (G. Russell
Grice, or Russell Grice, for short, has a fascinating, -- which I don't agree
with one jot, though -- account of a contractualist model of morality. And
he is an interesting Brit philosopher enough to have merited secondary
bibliography of the confusing type I'm referring to: e.g. essays in
philosophical journals on "Grice's contracts", etc.
In any case, when I delivered a paper at, of all places, Salta -- which was
published by Maria Julia Palacios in her "Temas Actuales de Filosofia",
available via interlibrary loan, if you can believe that --, I focused,
seriously, on Grice's very own 'contractual', or 'semi-contractual'. More on
Indeed, D. K. Lewis, the late one, who should be the honoured one of a
Lewis Appreciation Society, had his PhD from Harvard on "Conventions of
Language". His thesis director or advisor (I never can tell the difference) was
Quine, and I LOVE to think that Lewis sat at Emerson Hall when Grice
delivered his 1967 William James Memorial Lectures -- bi-annual, one year
philosophy, one year psychology, them were the days.
Indeed, there are immense crisscrosses Lewis/Grice. In fact, I wedded to
Lewis's notion of convention. I am NOT a conventionalist, and Grice has a few
manifestos against convention, too. My favourite one in WoW, Way of Words,
googlebooks, "I don't believe meaning is essentially tied to convention".
But some less subtle philosophers -- not to mention non-philosophers -- are
always READY to drop the word 'convention' from their lips, which
irritates me. So Lewis's book I found good, in his Schelling-based, von-Mises-based
co-ordination problem. That was old stuff, indeed popularised by Schiffer
in his _Meaning_. But what Lewis got it right, against, I think, Searle --
who abused Rawls's distinction between 'constitutive rules' and (my
favourite redundancy to avoid) 'regulative rules' --.
And what Lewis got it right, contra Searle, is the notion of
'arbitrariness'. I'm never sure what 'liber arbitrium' is; I think it's a delightful
phrase used by William James, and which _is_ linked to 'volition' and
'conation', so one has to be VERY careful with a possibly misuse or loose use of
this expression, 'arbitrary', by Lewis, of all people.
I recall that Lewis helped me understand Searle. Searle is saying that
'regulative rules' are _goal-oriented_ etc. If I understood him alright. To use
the right hand to hold the knife is _not_ goal-oriented, in a way; it's,
rather, arbitrary, or conventional. I don't know, but I follow him. Same
with driving on the right (as the Brits do) or the wrong side (as the rest of
the world does) of the streeet. It's, er, _arbitrary_, and _then_
conventional. For, in Lewis's magisterial sufficient/necessary conditioned analysis
of 'is a convention iff', 'is arbitrary' features largely.
Anyway, that's why, I guess, Grice _hated_ 'convention', and 'arbitrary',
and 'artificial' (e.g. why he prefers non-natural to talk of 'artificial'
signs). And when it comes to the operations of language he could be more
forceful, because he was never an Utilitarian (as Warner comments in "The
philosophy of H. P. Grice", session of APA, in reply to Stalnaker, who wants to
see Grice as one).
For Grice, consider,
'honesty is the best strategy, says I'
For Grice, that is _obscene_. If you are not honest, you are not BREAKING a
contractual law. Rather, and I _love_ Grice for saying things like these,
"you are letting down yourself, good chap"
I quote from the WoW, since in my Salta paper which I entitled, "The feast
of (conversational) reason: or the Conversational Immanuel: three steps in
the critique of conversational reason" -- (mouthful, but well-meant), I
seriously take Grice's three steps in answering what he calls the
'fundamental' question in terms of guidelines like those, "be honest".
The first step is an empiricist one; this includes an utitarian, even
semi-contractualist substep; the second step is 'rationalist' without tears; the
third step is _reasonableness_ without tears.
Grice writes -- and this is on p. 29 (an early one, page, that is) from
his WoW google books, Way of Words:
"But while some such _QUASI-CONTRACTUAL_ basis [emphasis mine. JLS]
as this may apply to some cases [of talk], there are too many types of
exchange, like quarrelling [chicanery, Grice will also say in "Valedictory
Essay] and letter writing, that it fails to fit comfortably."
And here is the key passage:
"In ANY CASE, one feels taht the talker who is irrelevant or
obscure has PRIMARILY let down not his AUDIENCE but
_himself_." Or hisself, as I prefer.
But it was earlier on that very same page, that Grice explains his former
self. (As Chapman notes in her bio of Grice, Grice's philosophy is an
attempt to understand hisself). Grice writes:
"For a time, I was attracted to the idea that
observance of the Co-operative Principle
[capitals, jocularly, Grice's. Surely it's
a principle of cooperation, rather. JLS] and
the [conversational] maxims, in a talk
exchange, could be thought of as
A QUASI-CONTRACTUAL MATTER,
with parallels outside the realm of discourse."
-- and he goes on to provide analogues for each of the four conversational
categories (Quantitas, Qualitas, Relatio, Modus) -- soon to find that "some
such quasi-contractual basis" "fails to fit comfortably" borderline or not
so borderline cases like 'letter writing, and 'quarreling'.
A student of logic of mine defined, famously, 'to argue', as "to quarrel,
with words". So I guess if 'quarreling' is the apex of rationality --
epagogically, if not diagogically -- I am with Grice any day!
Incidentally, the term 'pact' I learned from Locke, who was _so_ into "the
way of words" (his phrase indeed). He was the most important
'contractualist', or 'pact-theorist', compared to which Rawls is, well, a minor figure,
to use Grice's sobriquet (as Grice applied to Wittgenstein, Bosanquet, and
As a PhD in philosophy, from the University of Buenos Aires, you HAVE to
pass a seminar on Philosophical Ideas in Argentina. My tutor was Oscar Moran,
and, yes, there is at least ONE philosophical idea. He spent the whole
year (for in Buenos Aires they never heard of 'terms') talking about Moreno.
Moreno was killed in 1811, as I recalled, because his views were found to
be too Jacobine for the pro-British port-dwellers of Buenos Aires. But I got
hold of his tr. of Rousseau, "Social Contract", and found a delightful
argument in Moreno. I wrote my end-of-year paper on this which I still keep.
For Moreno, there is a contract between Spaniards (including Argentines
circa 1809) and the King of Spain.
But then The King of Spain got jailed.
Moreno argued: This surely _breaks_ the contract; for how are we stupidly
think that we can still be under a contract with someone who is in jail?
---- I found out that Grice's brother in law, James Steven Watson, lectured
at Harvard on his specialty, "The reign of George III". In the case of the
Tea Party at Boston, the argument was similarly made, I hope, that if not
'jailed' he (Geo III) was, well, 'insane', as he possibly was, even if he
J. L. Speranza
for the Grice Club, etc.
In a message dated 1/2/2010 12:00:26 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
Baynesr at comcast.net writes in "David Lewis, Grice and Rawlsian Contracts":
I haven't been able to reply to Speranza on a couple of occasions.
This post goes part way to explaining why, aside from getting the
final touches on the Anscombe book.
As a result of an interesting and provocative discussion, I
turned my attention, recently, to Rawls. In particular to a comparison
of Rawlsian contract theory and that of Hobbes. I've decided to do an
extended work on Rawls, Popper and Ronald Dworkin. My aim
is, among other things, to state my case against Rawls on contract.
Now an interesting development, one that may particularly interest JL,
is that there is an extended discussion of Grice on "Meaning" in
David Lewis's stimulating work _Convention: A Philosophical Study_.
Now I haven't looked at this closely, because I'm still thinking about
Lewis's views on conventions vs. contracts. It occurred to me that there
is a connection here to Dworkin's criticisms of H. L. Hart on the nature
of law. What I'm fiddling with is the difference between normative and
nonnormative conventions in connection with this distinction between
laws and contracts. I will probably end up rejecting contract theory as
well as utilitarianism. My predilection is for "perfectionist" views in
ethics but the material on this is sparse and obscure.
What I'm doing is tackling Rawls on contract on economic doctrine.
My own position, generally, is that of Joseph Schumpeter with some
"upgrading" based on the economist, Baumol, and others. Rawls is
deliciously vulnerable, but more deliciously insightful on these matters.
Dworkin (Ronald), I keep reading and every new look contains a new
insight. The matter of the "hard case" in law really has some nice
aspects amenable to recent work on mind. We'll see. Anyway, JL might
be looking at some postings on Lewis and Grice.
I might begin with an attack on Lewis based on a nonsequitur related
to reciprocity which I think occurs in his book on convention, reciprocity
it may recalled is an essential element in Rawlsian contract theory.
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