[hist-analytic] Grice and quasi-Grice on contract and quasi-contract

Jlsperanza at aol.com Jlsperanza at aol.com
Wed May 26 20:43:50 EDT 2010

In a message dated 5/26/2010 1:22:39 P.M.,  Baynesr at comcast.net  writes:
I look
closer. it now appears that ANY theory  of social  
justice which is a sound alternative to Rawls (as long
as you  are  contractarian, for sure) is going to 
incorporate elements of Fourier.   


I know it is slightly irreverent to refer to Grice as a  quasi-Grice but I  
find the etiquette sort of interesting for its  mnemonic values. Plus, we 
never  know who was who.

I am  discussing, indeed,

H. P. Grice -- Herbert Paul Grice
G. R. Grice --  Geoffrey Russell Grice.

"no relation" --  "superficially".


Grice taught at Oxford, while Grice taught  at the University of East 
at Norwhich. (I am unaware who Grice  studied with. I know Grice studied 
under  Hardie at Oxford but I'm less  sure what led Grice to teach at  

Anyway, if you do  a search in "Philosopher's Index" be warned: they  fail 
to distinguish  between Grice and Grice. Thus, I almost ordered a couple of 
essays  only to find out that they were about Dr. Grice (of Norwich) rather 
than  Mr. Grice of Oxford -- later both were Prof. Grice, to confuse  

The funny thing (funny not ha ha) is that they wrote about the  same thing: 

Now, I was recently discussing (with L.  J. Kramer, elsewhere) the  
importance of the quasi-contract, and wonder  if Bayne may find it 
interesting.  I.e. 
I'm not burdening him to  comment. I am suggesting he WILL find it  

What IS a  'quasi-contract'?

The wiki is clear about this: it is a VERY American  thing. It is so  
American and technical that I did not follow the  wiki's leads in that 
('quasi-contract') so I cannot tell. But I  WAS reminded that 
in a slightly similar 'use' -- for  Grice is writing in 1967 -- before the  
'American' quasi-contract qua  technical legal figure -- had used  
'quasi-contract' too. Or rather  'quasi-contractualist'. Let me recall the  

In 1967, then,  as repr. in 1989:29 of WoW (Studies in the Way Of  Words) 
Grice uses  'quasi-contract' (actually, 'quasi-contractual') TWICE on  the 

I. FIRST use of 'quasi-contractual' by Grice (WoW:29). "I am,  however,  
enough of a rationalist" -- to want to go beyond contracts  and 
"For a time, I was attracted
to the idea that  observance of 
the  cooperative principle and the
----  how much time (earlier) and for how long? He had invented the  thing  
for the 1967 lectures, in a way -- what he called the "Grand Plan for  the  
James Lectures" in archival material cited in Chapman's book  (Grice,  
Macmillan, 2006). In the Oxford lectures (on "Logic and  Conversation", in  
the Grice 
Collection, dated 1964 -- and which  feature the first use of  
'implicature') he never used -- nor would  have his students tolerated -- 
such  grandiose 
terms, I would hope!  

It was all 'helpfulness', 'candour', 'clarity', 'benevolence', and   
'self-love' BACK THEN -- (Someone SHOULD publish those lectures! Grice 
1964,  in  
the Grice Collection -- we should PAY him, too!)

Grice goes  on:
"in a talk exchange, could be 
thought of as a   quasi-contractual

There are three features here:

i.  the reference to the common aim.

ii. the dovetailing

(These two  above do not really point to the quasi-contract, directly, but  
iii  does)

iii. "There is some sort of understanding (which
may be explicit  but  which is often tacit) that,
other things being equal [caeteris  paribus],  the
transaction should continue in appropriate  style
[appropriately FINE  style. JLS] unless both 
parties agre  agreeable [if they are] that it  should
terminate. You do not just shove  off or start 
doing something  else"

This may sound more like a  telephone conversation to people, but  I trust 
you get Grice's draft,  if not drift. Grice then goes on to provide the  
SECOND occurrence of  'quasi-contractual'.

II. Second occurrence of 'quasi-contractual' on same  page. 

Grice writes AGAINST the quasi-contractualism he once felt  attracted  by:

"[Yet], while SOME SUCH quasi-contractual
basis as  this MAY apply to  SOME cases," -- conversation is much looser 
than  that!

"there are too many types of exchange -- like quarreling and letter  
-- that ['some such quasi-contractual basis as this'] failts to  fit  

Imagine having to disassociate yourself with  a model just because it does  
not cover fist-fighting and epistolaries!  But that's Grice for you, at his 
Oxonian best! Grice goes  on:


-- i.e. if the above seems moot and bland --  

"one" -- i.e. Grice --

"feels that the talker who is  irrelevant
or obscure has primarily let  down not his
[addressee] but  HIMSELF".

There is something heroic, so moralistic that it almost hurts!  about this! 
Moralising, even. As in 'You don't have to moralise me'.  But I get his 
draft if  not drift. I.e. this is back to Oxonian ethical  theory where 
IS  held to be the ultimate ethical worth. He  could have said, "the talker 
who has  LIED" has "primarily let down not  his addressee but himself".
"Obscure to myself" seems obscure. But I get  Grice's point. It is the 
for expression. As when Chomsky rights about  politics. He has the idea, 
but he  fails to express it! And then, I'm  far less sure about 
because I  have read too much of  Cortazar! Or not!

---- In any case, one should revise G. R. Grice's  points, too, since his  
theory -- the foundation of morality on some  sort of contract -- sounds 
Griceian  enough. But then it would,  wouldn't it?

And then there's Scanlon, who is perhaps more Griceian than  the Grices  
when it comes to the contractual nature of morality, if  any.


J. L. Speranza
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://rbjones.com/pipermail/hist-analytic_rbjones.com/attachments/20100526/70383c0c/attachment-0002.html>

More information about the hist-analytic mailing list