[hist-analytic] David Lewis, Grice and Rawlsian Contracts
jlsperanza at aol.com
jlsperanza at aol.com
Sat Jan 2 17:03:15 EST 2010
A closer commentary to Bayne's recent:
In a message dated 1/2/2010 12:00:26 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
"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
the Anscombe book.As a result of an interesting and provocative
discussion, I turned my attention, recently, to Rawls. In particular to a
of Rawlsian contract theory and that of Hobbes."
You are doing very well. I did mention in my "Grice and Grice", Locke --
for both Grices, H. P. and G. R. -- seem Lockean in that respect, but of
course the source of it all is Hobbes.
The contract theory seems indeed mediaeval. When I was discussing the
of this Argentine jacobine, Mariano Moreno, it was the whole thing of
"scholastic law": the fact that there is a pact, etc. Monarchs, for
rely on some kind of pact towards their subjects. How Rousseau got the
popular in the colonies must be a South American thing. I wouldn't think
Rousseau was ever too popular in the USA, so it must have been via Hobbes
Locke that Rawls got the idea from.
Bayne: "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
JL, is that there is an extended discussion of Grice on "Meaning" in
Lewis's stimulating work _Convention: A Philosophical Study_."
Right. And it's interesting you are mentioning the rather parochial
"Meaning". For, Griceans at large had rather relied on Lewis for an
what has come to be called, clumsily,
In Gricean jargon:
what an utterer U means
what x (expression token) means
what X (expression type, e.g. word, such as "pluie", to use an example in
Wharton, "Pragmatics and Nonverbal Communication", meaning 'rain') means
Only for "expression" do Griceans really _need_ a convention. Note that in
Grice's general account of _utterer's_ meaning, rather, WoW, Way of Words,
v, googlebooks), the 'mode of correspondence' or 'correlation', which
Grice, in his typical American pseudoformalism, has as "c" can be:
Utterer's meaning can exist without convention. Expression meaning is more
doubtful. In "Meaning Revisited", where Grice has this beautiful caveat,
don't believe meaning is essentially tied to convention", which I cited in
my "On the way of conversation", in a symposium I shared with Searle --,
Grice would rathe use the notion of optimality (and thus value) to have
the word 'pluie' means, in French, 'rain'.
"Now I haven't looked at this closely, because I'm still thinking about
Lewis's views on conventions vs. contracts."
Well, his 'convention' seems to be arbitrary. I'm not sure about contract.
But he is a fascinating writer on this, and a pity he doesn't seem to have
developed this other than in THAT book, or founded a school for that
matter. One wonders if there's secondary bibliography on Lewis on
contracts, etc. Beautiful distinctions for linguistic botanising alla
Austin and Grice.
"It occurred to me that there
is a connection here to Dworkin's criticisms of H. L. Hart on the nature
Well, and I was referring to Hart's apparent criticisms to John Austin's
utilitarianism. From what I recall, Dworkin succeeded Hare as White's
of Moral philosophy so he was bound to find criticisms in the work of his
co-chair, of Jurisprudence, Hart. Or was Dworkin prof. of jurisprudence?
stopped keeping tracks with all those Americans exiling in once so
Oxford -- just joking!
"What I'm fiddling with is the difference between normative and
nonnormative conventions in connection with this distinction between
laws and contracts."
That's a good one. Of course, "Norma" (Latin for "norm") has nothing to do
with this! I never understood "Norma", nor her younger daughter,
Statisticians use 'normal' so badly that I don't like that word anymore!
And nonnormative does not fare any better. You might just as well call
anormative. Recall Durkheim on 'anomie'.
I once got into a fight with a neurolinguist. She (and in Buenos Aires,
too) was using 'anomia' to mean, absence of names, which she found in some
her favourite bipolar patients. I said, "Look darling, be careful with your
wording: 'anomia' is lack of law for Durkheim". She wasn't impressed, but
in English there _is_ a lexical distinction here.
"I will probably end up rejecting contract theory as
well as utilitarianism."
And you'll be very right. You should also end up rejecting Hare. I used to
love R. M. Hare but when in his later writings he cannot fight against
Utilitarianism enough he bores me. O. T. O. H., Grice was never an
utilitarianism and it showed! (Even if his thesis in "Meaning", B. J.
Harrison has it
in his "Intro to the Philo of Lang., Macmillan), "shares with
Utilitarianism the greatest number of counterexamples" or words to that
"My predilection is for "perfectionist" views in ethics but the material
this is sparse and obscure."
As it should be, for who cares for 'perfection' in the world as we find it
now! It has gone, literally, to the dogs.
"What I'm doing is tackling Rawls on contract on economic doctrine. My
position, generally, is that of Joseph Schumpeter with some "upgrading"
based on the economist, Baumol, and others. Rawls is deliciously
but more deliciously insightful on these matters."
I keep being a delicious Keynesian on this. I cannot understand economic
theory, nor does my wallet.
"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."
Does it. I hope it's none of your Anscombian 'brute' versus
'institutionalised'. Just joking!
"We'll see. Anyway, JL might be looking at some postings on Lewis and
Yes. Lewis wrote his PhD on "Conventions of language". It was possibly a
good idea that he dropped the "of language" and the pluralisation,
'conventions', when he had his book published by Harvard.
There are a few further crisscrossing Lewis/Grice. When I attended, in
Buenos Aires, of all places, a seminar given by D. Edginton on
she was heavy on Lewis. Lewis and Jackson have taken with some degree of
seriousness Grice's ideas of 'if':
The idea that the 'conversational' implicature is linked to a
probability-account. Jackson (a colleague of Lewis Down Under) makes
between 'conventional' and 'conversational' implicatures on that. I
recall I was
slightly disappointed when I found that, at the Society for Philosophical
Analysis, where Edginton was lecturing, that she was not aware of
"If and -->". Or at least not aware that the thing (which had been doing
the rounds since 1968) had been published by Grandy/Warner, PGRICE. I
she liked that.
Her Spanish was not that good. My logic tutor, Alberto Moretti, was in
attendance. When discussing Grice's views, Edginton kept referring to them
i.e what she thought meant 'ridiculous'. But the correct Spanish is
'ridiculo', not ridiculoso. Anyway, I treasure a contribution by my tutor,
Moretti. He said to Edginton:
"I object to your view, but I'm sure you'll find
my objection to 'ridiculoso' to be true".
Of course she never found out that we, the Argentine audience, were having
a big laugh at her cheek of wanting to give us a lecture in _Spanish_ --
which in her case sounded as if she had picked her up in her holidays in
But I love her!
Of course the most important Lewis/Grice interface is Grice's rejection of
'possible worlds'. "I have enough troubles with _this_ world and issues of
truth-functional sequiturs to start wondering about others", he would
words to that perlocutionary effect (cfr. his "Valedictory Essay" on
'non-truth functional utterances' as a problem for neo-traditionalism and
modernism and his own tenets)
"I might begin with an attack on Lewis based on a nonsequitur related
to reciprocity which I think occurs in his book on convention,"
This is lovely. It resembles Grice's Conversational Immanuel and the
'impersonality' of the maxims. No proper names allowed, etc.
it may recalled is an essential element in Rawlsian contract theory."
Indeed. Grice takes Hare's universalisability things with some earnest in
"Method in philosophical psychology" which I sumarised, the three of them
this essay in the Palacios book. For Grice there are three types of
generality associated with issues of universalisability. His "Method"
by J. Baker in Grice's Conception of Value, googlebooks --: These three
Applicational means that norms should apply to all of us or none of us.
Formal that they should be essentially vacuous. We cannot have guidelines
for _each_ little thing that bothers. J. K. Jerome, Three men on a bummell
and their problems with the law-abiding Germans is a delight here.
conceptual: the terms in which norms should be couched are psychological.
Loar has been useful to me on this. And here the connection with the
philosophy of mind (which Grice despised unless called "philosophical
psycholoogy) is obvious. For Loar, things like Grice's maxims should be
nonnormatively, as 'generalisations over functional states'. But not all
us, even if I am, are Loarian here. What a genius B. F. Loar is.
Incidentally, I spent YEARS studying Rawls, to no real avail, other than
finding that in one of his essays in "Public Affairs" he cares to quote
Grice, "Personal Identity", Grice's very first 'publication' in _Mind_,
1941. He (Rawls) possibly learned about it from Perry, and in any case,
made Grice's essay popular enough to be quoted by Parfit in Reasons and
Persons and have a pretty good Oxford comeback. (These were the years
had to be quoted by an American -- call it Dworkin, Rawls, Davidson, or
have you -- to be treated seriously back in Oxford! Even Grice had to
ceased to belong to Oxford to become the John Locke Lecturer (You cannot
lecture the John Locke Lecturers as an Oxford lecturer. It's for
and if overseas, the better!)
J. L. Speranza
For the Grice Club, etc.
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