[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:
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
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
Collection, dated 1964 -- and which feature the first use of
'implicature') he never used -- nor would have his students tolerated --
terms, I would hope!
It was all 'helpfulness', 'candour', 'clarity', 'benevolence', and
'self-love' BACK THEN -- (Someone SHOULD publish those lectures! Grice
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. "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
"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:
"IN ANY CASE",
-- 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
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