[hist-analytic] Grice's Myth

jlsperanza at aol.com jlsperanza at aol.com
Sun Jan 10 09:19:17 EST 2010

Political Philosophy: The Oxford  Tradition

In a message dated 1/9/2010 7:32:40 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:
That would be Sir Anthony Quinton. Isn't he  librarian, or was, at 
In any case, this is a perticularly good  anthology. I read a number of 
a long while ago, but I'm going to be  returning to this. Carritt's 
and Equality" will be among the first  on my list, since it's implications 
for Rawls (the second principle  qualifies the first as equality may
qualify liberty) is crucial. Also, the  essays by Benn on "Sovereignty" 


That's very good. Indeed, Anthony, Viscount Quinton -- I am told his title  
was a New Year's celebration from the Queen after Quinton's work on 
educational  policies. I first saw Quinton on a photo. And that's B. Magee, "Men of 
Ideas",  the BBC book based on the BBC lectures. You see Quinton sitting I 
think at  Trinity, his college, and talking about, I think, the spell of 
linguistic  philosophy.
Hampshire, who I corresponded on the matter of what Hampshire and I called  
the 'old play group' -- the Tuesday evening meetings at All Souls -- told 
me  that Quinton possibly got influenced by Grice on matters of the causal 
theory of  perception. I would have to revise the correspondence. I tend to 
remember that  Hampshire told me that he (Hampshire) and Quinton attended 
Grice's seminars on  perception. Those were the days when colleagues of such 
statute would just 'sit'  like that for hours!
---- I think Carritt too has Oxonian associations, and so does Benn, and so 
 does Donagan, so your reading list looks amazingly amazing!
Now, for a time PPEs were looked down at Oxford. You had to be a Lit.Hum.  
to count. Strawson, for example, was a PPE -- I forget what it stands for, 
but  one P is for Politics. I am unaware how the teaching of political 
philosophy is  organised. Hart taught Jurisprudence (the [...] Chair of 
Jurisprudence]. I don't  think there is a chair of political philosophy, which is just 
as well -- do not  multiply chairs beyond necessity, my Oxonian motto. And 
I'm very pleased that  the three chairs that matter start with a W: White, 
Waynflete and Wykeham. It  simplifies things so.
Incidentally, I think you should distinguish between:
-- Meinongian contracts
-- other.
Meinongian contracts are no contracts. They are irreal things. E.g. Rawls  
and the veil of ignorance. Surely such a thing is a myth of not the best  
Platonic kind. (Grice uses 'myth' but with other goals in mind -- vide 
Wharton,  last chapter in his "Pragmatics" books). Meinongian contracts are 
metaphorically  so, but on the other hand they attain non-metaphorical validity 
status. You are  supposed to be bound by a contract that their appealers accept 
was never signed  or anything!
We should also distinguish between: levels of pacting or compacting or  
contracting. Lawyers and accountants use the word 'contract' so freely that 
they  give 'contractualism' a bad name. The scholastics took the word 
seriously. First  there was the Jewish, as you say, or Biblical, alliance with God, 
which we need  not go over. 

But when it comes to authors of contractualism proper, we need to  
distinguish between the 'social' contract per se (that which contracts 'pirots'  who 
can abide by this sort of contract -- e.g. non-rational pirots cannot 
really  engage in contracts), and the 'political' contract.
When Moreno used the 'contract' theory to justify the Argentine revolution  
against Spain, he was criticised for lumping when you can split. Surely the 
 Argentines were still _human_ when they rebelled against the King of Spain 
(the  holder of the other side of the contract as it were). So the social 
contract was  never broken or breached. It was the political contract, rather.
Whatever the complexities that follow from this are!
I title this Grice's Myth, because the word is so used by Wharton in his  
book for this policy by Grice of appealing to myths of this or that type (his 
 example is one for the origin of language) as having explanatory power. I 
would  like thus to compare Grice's use of myth with other uses of myths, 
say, in  political philosophy, as they involve contracts per se. 
J. L. Speranza
    for the Grice Circle

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