[hist-analytic] David Lewis, Grice and Rawlsian Contracts
baynesrb at yahoo.com
Sat Jan 2 17:24:51 EST 2010
"Well, his 'convention' seems to be arbitrary"
I don't see this. How so?
--- On Sat, 1/2/10, jlsperanza at aol.com <jlsperanza at aol.com> wrote:
From: jlsperanza at aol.com <jlsperanza at aol.com>
Subject: Re: David Lewis, Grice and Rawlsian Contracts
To: hist-analytic at simplelists.co.uk
Date: Saturday, January 2, 2010, 5:03 PM
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 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."
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 ideas
of this Argentine jacobine, Mariano Moreno, it was the whole thing of
"scholastic law": the fact that there is a pact, etc. Monarchs, for example,
rely on some kind of pact towards their subjects. How Rousseau got the thing
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 and
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 interest
JL, is that there is an extended discussion of Grice on "Meaning" in David
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 account of
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, "I
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 conventions vs.
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 prof.
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? I
stopped keeping tracks with all those Americans exiling in once so English
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 them
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 of
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 perlocutionary
"My predilection is for "perfectionist" views in ethics but the material on
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 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."
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 "Conditionals",
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 distinctions
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 Strawson,
"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 think
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 as
i.e what she thought meant 'ridiculous'. But the correct Spanish is
'ridiculo', not ridiculoso. Anyway, I treasure a contribution by my tutor, then,
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 utter
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 in
this essay in the Palacios book. For Grice there are three types of
generality associated with issues of universalisability. His "Method" essay repr.
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
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