How implicatures make Grice an unordinary ordinary language philosopher

David Lüthi


Since Paul Grice first propounded his ideas surrounding conversation and implicature in 1967, they have had a continuous and tremendous impact on theorizing, and indeed on the design of entire research programmes, in philosophy, but also in many other disciplines, in particular linguistic pragmatics. Much of what builds on Grice’s original suggestions now belongs to the most powerful hypotheses in the respective fields. But while scholars outside philosophy usually acknowledge Grice’s merits for their own areas of interest, they hardly ever pay attention to his original philosophical intentions. These intentions are the central topic of the present paper. Its primary concern is to show how the theory of conversational implicature enabled Grice to adopt a unique theoretical position within 20th century analytic philosophy. In doing so, it also hopes to eliminate a number of widespread misconceptions regarding the explanatory ambitions of Grice’s original theory.

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