[hist-analytic] Frictionless Pulleys --Re: McPherson's Hobbes and Grice on 'implicature' in 1964

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Fri Feb 12 20:10:00 EST 2010

In a message dated 2/12/2010 12:10:45 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
Baynesr at comcast.net writes:

MacPherson describes his counterfactual approach as

---- Long winded indeed! --- Perhaps you can let us know about his  
background. I mean: he got his book published with Oxford alright, but he  sounds, 
a "new Worlder"?
    You should provide the quote where he does go  "abstraction". I don't 
think it was in the quote you provided this far. In this  one he was saying 
that the state of nature was a "statement".
----- Thanks for the clarification on your background and your attitudes  
towards seccesion and slavery. South of Dixie towards Mid-West, etc. It would 
be  good to know McPherson's too. (Not because we want to be gossipy, but 
surely if  we are going to listen to some talk
              Hobbes, the Leviathan, the philosophy
                    of rights
   we may have a suspicion that if the person is, say, an  obdurate Brit, 
or a revolutionary American, or a liberal, or whatever, will  judge his 
views. I don't say pre-judge, just judge (It's a verb I invent).
  --- I don't quite follow your views on abstraction, but they are  
  Indeed 'abstract' is a very complex verb, but I hope McPherson is  just 
using it alla Roget's Thesaurus to mean:
   -- schema
   -- gedanke experiment.
I.e. As when Grice was criticised: What you say is too abstract. Surely we  
don't want to say that participants in a conversation do this and do that 
as you  say they do.      He would reply
   -- I quote from Chapman:
(Since it took me sometime to rescue it, and it's frictionless PULLEYS and  
not solids as I thought, I'm appending that to subject matter to we can 
play on  the interface
McPherson as Neo-Hobbes
method: "abtraction"
'state of nature'
as statement
    etc.                         GRICE
account of conversation
                              as neo-Aristotle
                              and neo-Kant
                         method: abstraction
     Purposes of abstract methodology:
     to propose a model that may run against the  facts
     but it still works.  
     Counterfactual method as 'transcendental  justification'
     alla Kant.
     It identifies the minimal elements and proceeds  to
     discourse on the logic of this or that:
"We never know what Grice is doing", Chapman complains. But she is a  
teacher of English at Liverpool. Philosophers do.
She is very clever enough and indeed to unbury the things by Grice from  us.

"He does say what he is doing in some "unpublished" stuff.
Personally, I agree with those philosophers who say, "Burn all I left,  
after you burn me". But not when it comes to Grice: because I love him, and  
because many of that stuff is things he SAID in public. As a historian of 20th 
 century Oxford philosophy, I'm interested I was interested as to what they 
were  getting (and it's here that what McPherson is trying to do may  
Grice, Chapman says, in this unpublications, "defends his method of working 
 with as few 'cards on the table' as possible, in the knowledge that this 
WILL  result in certain deliberate simplifications"
          McPherson's  abstraction
--- "In another lecture, proposing to address some questions put to him a  
previous discussion about the nature of his undertaking" he notes that 
   he is
"considering what is (or may be)
only an IDEAL (emphasis Grice's --JLS) case,
one which is
   artificially simplified
                -- McPherson's abstracted. JLS--
by ABSTRACTING from all considerations
      OTHER than those involved in ... [say an  illumination of 'contract'. 
"I do not claim that there ACTUALLY [empahsis Grice's. JLS]
occur any ... conversations [write state of nature for McPherson]
of this artificially simplified kind."
"It MIGHT"  and this is where Grice gets to be my CHARMING  GRICE:
"even be that these COULD [emphasis Grice's] not be (cf frictionless  
"Since the object of this exercise is to provide a bit of THEORY
  -- vs.analysis.JLS, as he had undertaken in "Meaning"--he is  
specifically making the change of methodology here]
"...which will EXPLAIN, for a certain family of cases,
why is it that a ...."
"I would suggest that the final
for the adequacy and utility
of this model should be"
   "First: can it be used to construct 
    explanations of the presence of ...
    and is it more comprehensive and more economical
    than any rival
--- McPherson say on 'divine' formation of contracts --
   "Second, "Are there no doubt crude, PRETHEORETICAL (Grice's  emphasis. 
    explanations which one would be prompted to give of ...  (this or that)
       consistent with, or better still,  favourable pointers towards, the
     requirements invovled in the model."
I NOTE FOR THE RECORD that Grice is using "implicature" here -- so this  
predates the OED3 quote which gives is at 1967. This is 1964.
------ In a way it compares to ideal-observer's theories, which became more 
 and more influential in moral/political theory and out of which Grice will 
draw  a few commodities he'll expand in e.g. his Method in philosopoical  
The details of how this work for
  i. Hobbes
  ii. McPherson
          iii. More  importantly, YOU
remains to be seen!
JL Speranza
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