Implicature

Edited by Brian Robinson (Texas A&M University - Kingsville)
About this topic
Summary Paul Grice coined the term 'implicature' and its two sub-categories: conventional implicature and conversational implicature. Implicatures are what a speaker meant in addition to or instead of what was literally said. Grice originally intended implicature to serve as a gap between what a speaker said and what a speaker meant, since speakers regularly do mean more than (or something contrary to) what they literally said. While many except that implicatures fit in that gap, it is debated that they do not completely fill it. Since Grice, neo-Griceans have made various emendations to the notion of implicature. Others, have sought to account for roughly the same phenomena by different theoretical means, chiefly Relevance theorists, such as Sperber and Wilson. 
Key works The first, and most important key work is Grice's "Logic and Conversation" in Grice 1989, in which Grice lays out the initial account of implicature. Neale 1992 provides a lengthy, but thorough summary of that theory. Bach has two seminal articles on conversational implicature (Bach 1994) and conventional implicature (Bach 1999). Davis offers his arguments for the failure of the Gricean theory of implicature in Davis 1998.
Introductions Grice 1989  Grandy 1989  Neale 1992
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  1. How Does Pornography Change Desires? A Pragmatic Account.Junhyo Lee & Eleonore Neufeld - forthcoming - The Philosophical Quarterly.
    Rae Langton and Caroline West famously argued that pornography operates like a language game, in that it introduces certain views about women into the common ground via presupposition accommodation. While this pragmatic model explains how pornography has the potential to change its viewers’ beliefs, it leaves open how pornography changes people’s desires. Our aim in this paper is to show how Langton and West’s discourse theoretic account of pornography can be refined to close this lacuna. Using tools from recent developments (...)
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  2. Pragmatics after Grice علم الاستعمال بعد جرايس.Ismail Salah - 2024 - Tatris 2 (Second issue):148-170.
    ملخص تهدف هذه المقالة إلى بيان التطورات التي طرأت على علم الاستعمال كما قدمه جرايس، والتي يمكن حصرها في اتجاهين أساسيين. أولهما علم الاستعمال الجرايسي الجديد الذي يحافظ على أصول جرايس ويجدد بمقدار، سواء أكان التجديد في اختصار قواعد جرايس للمحادثة لتفادي التداخل والتعارض فيما بينها، أم زيادة القواعد والتوسع في بعضها. وثانيهما علم الاستعمال ما بعد جرايس متمثلاً في نظرية الْمُلَاءَمَة التي هي تناول إدراكي لعلم الاستعمال، وتؤكد على أن الاستدلال اللغوي يعد جانبًا من ميل إدراكي إلى طلب الملاءمة (...)
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  3. Presuppositional fallacies.Fabrizio Macagno - forthcoming - Argumentation:1-32.
    Presuppositions are at the same time a crucial and almost neglected dimension of arguments and fallacies. Arguments involve different types of presuppositions, which can be used for manipulative purposes in distinct ways. However, what are presuppositions? What is their dialectical function? Why and how can they be dangerous? This paper intends to address these questions by developing the pragmatic approaches to presupposition from a dialectical perspective. The use of presuppositions will be analyzed in terms of presumptive conclusions concerning the interlocutor’s (...)
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  4. The boundaries of lying: Casuistry and the pragmatic dimension of interpretation.Fabrizio Macagno & Giovanni Damele - 2023 - Journal of Argumentation in Context 12:19–58.
    The Holy Scriptures can be considered a specific kind of normative texts, whose use to assess practical moral cases requires interpretation. In the field of ethics, this interpretative problem results in the necessity of bridging the gap between the normative source – moral precepts – and the specific cases. In the history of the Church, this problem was the core of the so-called casuistry, namely the decision-making practice consisting in applying the Commandments and other principles of the Holy Scriptures to (...)
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  5. Just saying, just kidding : liability for accountability-avoiding speech in ordinary conversation, politics and law.Elisabeth Camp - 2022 - In Laurence R. Horn (ed.), From lying to perjury: linguistic and legal perspective on lies and other falsehoods. De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 227-258.
    Mobsters and others engaged in risky forms of social coordination and coercion often communicate by saying something that is overtly innocuous but transmits another message ‘off record’. In both ordinary conversation and political discourse, insinuation and other forms of indirection, like joking, offer significant protection from liability. However, they do not confer blanket immunity: speakers can be held to account for an ‘off record’ message, if the only reasonable interpreta- tions of their utterance involve a commitment to it. Legal liability (...)
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  6. Endogenous ambiguity and rational miscommunication.Toru Suzuki - 2023 - Journal of Economic Theory 211 (July).
    This paper studies a sender-receiver game in which both players want the receiver to choose the state-optimal action. Before observing the state, the sender observes a “contextual signal,” a payoff-irrelevant signal that correlates with states and is imperfectly shared with the receiver. Once the sender observes the state, the sender sends a message to the receiver, incurring a small messaging cost. It is shown that there is no miscommunication in any efficient equilibrium if the messaging cost is uniform or contextual (...)
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  7. On Media Reports, Politicians, Indirection, and Duplicity.Mary Kate McGowan - 2023 - Topoi 42 (2):407-417.
    We often say one thing and mean another. This kind of indirection (concerning the content conveyed) is both ubiquitous and widely recognized. Other forms of indirection, however, are less common and less discussed. For example, we can sometimes address one person with the primary intention of being overheard by someone else. And, sometimes speakers say something simply in order to make it possible for someone else to say that they said it. Politicians generating sounds bites for the media are an (...)
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  8. Can Entailments Be Implicatures?Andrei Moldovan - 2019 - In Piotr Stalmaszczyk (ed.), Philosophical Insights Into Pragmatics. De Gruyter. pp. 43-62.
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  9. Mantık ve Konuşma.Paul Grice & Alper Yavuz - 2022 - Posseible: Felsefe Dergisi 11 (1):71-87.
    Grice bu yazıda temel olarak sezdirim kavramını incelemektedir. Sezdirim bir karşılıklı konuşmada konuşucunun, söylediği şey ötesinde dinleyicisine aktardığı düşüncedir. Konuşma sezdirimleri söz konusu olduğunda dinleyici, bir çıkarım sonucunda sezdirimleri saptar. Grice'ın savı, bu çıkarımda nicelik, nitelik, bağıntı ve tarz olmak üzere dört grupta toplanabilen ilkelerin (maksimler) belirleyici rol oynadığıdır.
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  10. "Mantık ve Konuşma" Üzerine.Alper Yavuz - 2022 - Posseible: Felsefe Dergisi 11 (1):51-70.
    Özet: Bu yazı Paul Grice’ın 1967 yılında verdiği “Mantık ve Konuşma” başlıklı dersinin Türkçe çevirisinin okunmasına yardımcı olmayı amaçlamaktadır. Yazıda önce “Mantık ve Konuşma”nın arka planında yer alan dil felsefesi tartışmaları kısaca tanıtılmış sonrasında sezdirimler ve özellikleri, bağlam ve iletişimin ilkeleri gibi metinde geçen temel tartışmalar açıklanmıştır. En sonda ise “Mantık ve Konuşma”nın dil felsefesi ve dilbilimdeki etkilerinden kısaca söz edilmiştir. -/- Abstract: This paper aims at being helpful in reading the Turkish translation of Paul Grice’s 1967 lecture titled “Logic (...)
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  11. Probabilistic semantics for epistemic modals: Normality assumptions, conditional epistemic spaces and the strength of must and might.Guillermo Del Pinal - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (4):985-1026.
    The epistemic modal auxiliaries must and might are vehicles for expressing the force with which a proposition follows from some body of evidence or information. Standard approaches model these operators using quantificational modal logic, but probabilistic approaches are becoming increasingly influential. According to a traditional view, must is a maximally strong epistemic operator and might is a bare possibility one. A competing account—popular amongst proponents of a probabilisitic turn—says that, given a body of evidence, must \ entails that \\) is (...)
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  12. Response to Critics.Mary Kate McGowan - 2021 - Australasian Philosophical Review 5 (2):211-220.
    McGowan here responds to essays written in critical engagement with her lead essay (Just Words: On Speech and Hidden Harm: An Overview and an Application). She here responds to Caroline West, Ishani Maitra, Jeremy Waldron, Robert Mark Simpson, Lawrence Lengbeyer, Louise Richardsoon-Self, Laura Caponetto and Bianca Cepollaro.
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  13. Analizzare l’argomentazione sui social media. Il caso dei tweet di Salvini.Fabrizio Macagno - 2019 - Sistemi Intelligenti 3 (31):601-632.
    Twitter is an instrument used not only for sharing public or personal information, but also for persuading the audience. While specific platforms and software have been developed for analyzing macro-analytical data, and specific studies have focused on the linguistic dimension of the tweets, the argumentative dimension of the latter is unexplored to this date. This paper intends to propose a method grounded on the tools advanced in argumentation theory for capturing, coding, and assessing the different argumentative dimensions of the messages (...)
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  14. Perceiving Images and Styles.Nathaniel Goldberg & Chris Gavaler - 2021 - JOLMA. The Journal for the Philosophy of Language, Mind and the Arts 2 (1):132-146.
    Marks individually or in combination constitute images that represent objects. How do those images represent those objects? Marks vary in style, both between and within images. Images also vary in style. How do those styles relate to each other and to the objects that those images represent? Referencing a diverse range of images, we answer the first question with a response-dependence theory of image representation derived from Mark Johnston, differentiating Lockean primary qualities of marks from secondary qualities of images. We (...)
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  15. Literal meaning, minimal propositions, and pragmatic processing.Anne Louise Bezuidenhout & J. Cooper Cutting - 2002 - Journal of Pragmatics 34 (4):433-456.
  16. The truth about "it is true that…".Varol Akman & M. Burak Senol - 2016 - Pragmatics and Cognition 23 (2):284-299.
    Deflationism, one of the influential philosophical doctrines of truth, holds that there is no property of truth, and that overt uses of the predicate "true" are redundant. However, the hypothetical examples used by theorists to exemplify deflationism are isolated sentences, offering little to examine what the predicate adds to meaning within context. We oppose the theory not on philosophical but on empirical grounds. We collect 7,610 occurrences of "it is true that" from 10 influential periodicals published in the United States. (...)
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  17. On three theories of implicature: default theory, relevance and minimalism.Emma Borg - unknown
    Grice's distinction between what is said by a sentence and what is implicated by an utterance of it is both extremely familiar and almost universally accepted. However, in recent literature, the precise account he offered of implicature recovery has been questioned and alternative accounts have emerged. In this paper, I examine three such alternative accounts. My main aim is to show that the two most popular accounts in the current literature still face signifi cant problems. I will then conclude by (...)
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  18. On Grice on Language.Richard E. Grandy - 1989 - Journal of Philosophy 86 (10):514-525.
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  19. Gricean Communication and Transmission of Thoughts.Friedrich Christoph Doerge & Mark Siebel - 2008 - Erkenntnis 69 (1):55-67.
    Gricean communication is communication between utterers and their audiences, where the utterer means something and the audience understands what is meant. The weak transmission idea is that, whenever such communication takes place, there is something which is transmitted from utterer to audience; the strong transmission idea adds that what is transmitted is nothing else than what is communicated. We try to salvage these ideas from a seemingly forceful attack by Wayne Davis. Davis attaches too much significance to the surface structure (...)
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  20. Paul Grice, Philosopher and Linguist. [REVIEW]L. Villamil García - 2007 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 26 (2).
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  21. Grice’s Razor and Epistemic Invariantism.Wayne A. Davis - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Research 38:147-176.
    Grice’s Razor is a methodological principle that many philosophers and linguists have used to help justify pragmatic explanations of linguistic phenomena over semantic explanations. A number of authors in the debate over contextualism argue that an invariant semantics together with Grice’s (1975) conversational principles can account for the contextual variability of knowledge claims. I show here that the defense of Grice’s Razor found in these “Gricean invariantists,” and its use against epistemic contextualism, display all the problems pointed out earlier in (...)
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  22. Pragmatics of Speech Actions, Handbooks of Pragmatics (HoPs) Vol. 2.Claudia Bianchi - 2013
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  23. Literal Meaning. [REVIEW]Kent Bach - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (2):487-492.
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  24. Ten more misconceptions about implicature.Kent Bach - unknown
    1. Sentences have implicatures. (11, 14, 19)** 2. Implicatures are inferences. (12. 14) 3. Implicatures can’t be entailments. 4. Gricean maxims apply only to implicatures. (16, 17) 5. For what is implicated to be figured out, what is said must be determined first. (12, 13) 6. All pragmatic implications are implicatures. 7. Implicatures are not part of the truth-conditional contents of utterances. (20) 8. If something is meant but unsaid, it must be implicated. (20) 9. Scalar “implicatures” are implicatures. (11) (...)
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  25. Logic and conversation.Herbert Paul Grice - 1967 - In Paul Grice (ed.), Studies in the Way of Words. Harvard University Press. pp. 41-58.
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  26. Utterer's meaning revisited.Andreas Kemmerling - 1986 - In Richard E. Grandy & Richard Warner (eds.), Philosophical Grounds of Rationality: Intentions, Categories, Ends. Oxford University Press. pp. 131--55.
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  27. Impliciture vs. explicature: What's the difference?Kent Bach - manuscript
    I am often asked to explain the difference between my notion of impliciture (Bach 1994) and the relevance theorists’ notion of explicature (Sperber and Wilson 1986; Carston 2002). Despite the differences between the theoretical frameworks within which they operate, the two notions seem very similar. Relevance theorists describe explicatures as “developments of logical forms,” whereas I think of implicitures as “expansions” or “completions” of semantic contents (depending on whether or not the sentence’s semantic content amounts to a proposition). That is (...)
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  28. Behavioral game theory: Plausible formal models that predict accurately.Colin F. Camerer - 2003 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 26 (2):157-158.
    Many weaknesses of game theory are cured by new models that embody simple cognitive principles, while maintaining the formalism and generality that makes game theory useful. Social preference models can generate team reasoning by combining reciprocation and correlated equilibrium. Models of limited iterated thinking explain data better than equilibrium models do; and they self-repair problems of implausibility and multiplicity of equilibria.
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  29. Implicature.Wayne Davis - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  30. Implicature.Larry Horn - manuscript
    1. Implicature: some basic oppositions IMPLICATURE is a component of speaker meaning that constitutes an aspect of what is meant in a speaker’s utterance without being part of what is said. What a speaker intends to communicate is characteristically far richer than what she directly expresses; linguistic meaning radically underdetermines the message conveyed and understood. Speaker S tacitly exploits pragmatic principles to bridge this gap and counts on hearer H to invoke the same principles for the purposes of utterance interpretation. (...)
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  31. Grice's intentions.L. B. Lombard & G. C. Stine - 1974 - Philosophical Studies 25 (3):207 - 212.
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  32. Professor Grice's theory of meaning.Alfred F. MacKay - 1972 - Mind 81 (321):57-66.
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  33. Book review. [REVIEW]Anna Papafragou - manuscript
    To those who have not followed recent advances in pragmatics, the sub-title of Robyn Carston’s book may seem surprising, even paradoxical. Indeed, until recently, the dominant view among most linguists and philosophers was that pragmatics dealt with implicit aspects of communication, mainly implicatures, while explicit, literal meaning was delivered by decoding the linguistic (semantic) content of utterances. Grice clearly held that view: even though he recognized that pragmatic processes of disambiguation or reference assignment have to contribute to ‘what is said’, (...)
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  34. Paul Grice: Philosopher and linguist, by Siobhan Chapman. Houndmills, basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005. Pp. VII + 247. H/b £45. [REVIEW]Christopher Potts - unknown
    Paul Grice seems to have led a quintessentially academic life — a life spent jotting notes, giving lectures, reading, talking, and arguing with his past self and with others. In virtue of his age and station, he remained largely at the fringes of the great battles of his day — World War II and the clash of the positivists with the ordinary language group. There are no grand family tensions `a la Russell, nor any deep psychoses `a la Wittgenstein. Just (...)
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  35. Grice on meaning: The ultimate counter-example.N. L. Wilson - 1970 - Noûs 4 (3):295-302.
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Conversational Implicature
  1. Towards a Fregean psycholinguistics.Thorsten Sander - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    This paper is partly exegetical, partly systematic. I argue that Frege's account of what he called “colouring” contains some important insights on how communication is related to mental states such as mental images or emotions. I also show that the Fregean perspective is supported by current research in psycholinguistics and that a full understanding of some linguistic phenomena that scholars have accounted for in terms of either semantics or pragmatics need involve psycholinguistic elements.
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  2. Meaning and responsibility.Ray Buchanan & Henry Ian Schiller - 2023 - Mind and Language 38 (3):809-827.
    In performing an act of assertion we are sometimes responsible for more than the content of the literal meaning of the words we have used, sometimes less. A recently popular research program seeks to explain certain of the commitments we make in speech in terms of responsiveness to the conversational subject matter. We raise some issues for this view with the aim of providing a more general account of linguistic commitment: one that is grounded in a more general action‐theoretic notion (...)
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  3. Focus on slurs.Poppy Mankowitz & Ashley Shaw - 2023 - Mind and Language 38 (3):693-710.
    Slurring expressions display puzzling behaviour when embedded, such as under negation and in attitude and speech reports. They frequently appear to retain their characteristic qualities, like offensiveness and propensity to derogate. Yet it is sometimes possible to understand them as lacking these qualities. A theory of slurring expressions should explain this variability. We develop an explanation that deploys the linguistic notion of focus. Our proposal is that a speaker can conversationally implicate metalinguistic claims about the aptness of a focused slurring (...)
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  4. Is Metalinguistic Usage a Conversational Implicature?Andrés Soria-Ruiz - 2023 - Topoi 42 (4):1027-1038.
    I argue against the view that metalinguistic usage is a form of conversational implicature. That view, suggested by Thomasson (Anal Philos 57(4):1-28, 2016) and Belleri (Philos Stud 174(9):2211–2226, 2017), has been most recently fleshed out by Mankowitz (Synthese 199:5603–5622, 2021). I provide two types of criticism to the implicature view. From an empirical point of view, metalinguistic usage differs in key respects from standard cases of conversational implicature. From a conceptual standpoint, I argue that the calculation algorithm provided by the (...)
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  5. On Deniability.Alexander Dinges & Julia Zakkou - 2023 - Mind 132 (526):372-401.
    Communication can be risky. Like other kinds of actions, it comes with potential costs. For instance, an utterance can be embarrassing, offensive, or downright illegal. In the face of such risks, speakers tend to act strategically and seek ‘plausible deniability’. In this paper, we propose an account of the notion of deniability at issue. On our account, deniability is an epistemic phenomenon. A speaker has deniability if she can make it epistemically irrational for her audience to reason in certain ways. (...)
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  6. Trying to Make Sense of Embedded Conversational Implicatures.Pedro Santos - 2019 - In Piotr Stalmaszczyk (ed.), Philosophical Insights Into Pragmatics. De Gruyter. pp. 63-82.
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  7. On Subtweeting.Eleonore Neufeld & Elise Woodard - forthcoming - In Patrick Connolly, Sanford C. Goldberg & Jennifer Saul (eds.), Conversations Online. Oxford University Press.
    In paradigmatic cases of subtweeting, one Twitter user critically or mockingly tweets about another person without mentioning their username or their name. In this chapter, we give an account of the strategic aims of subtweeting and the mechanics through which it achieves them. We thereby hope to shed light on the distinctive communicative and moral texture of subtweeting while filling in a gap in the philosophical literature on strategic speech in social media. We first specify what subtweets are and identify (...)
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  8. Are There Non-Propositional Implicatures?Arthur Sullivan - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 73 (2):580-601.
    Could there be an implicature whose content is not propositional? Grice's canon is somewhat ambivalent on this question, but such figures as Sperber & Wilson, Davis, and Lepore & Stone presume that there cannot be, and argue that this causes glaring failures within the Gricean programme. Building on work by McDowell and Buchanan, I argue that, on the contrary, the notion of non-propositional implicature is very much worth investigating. I show how the notion has promise to illuminate the content of (...)
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  9. The conversational implicature in the series of al-zeer Salem (abu laila al-muhalhal) as a pragmatic approach to the speech of revenge for kulaib's blood.Adnan Rasmi Yasir & Sadeq Omair Jalood - unknown
    The research revolves around the conversational Implicature as one of the deliberative arguments advocated by in his research. It is based on the core idea that people in their conversations mean more than they say. Based on this, the imperative is the indirect or implicit speech that the speaker hides from his hearer. This paper dealt with the discourse of revenge as an annihilating discourse. The blood seeker was intentionally - in my opinion - to use indirect speech with his (...)
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  10. The Non-saying of What Should Have Been Said.Roberta Colonna Dahlman - 2022 - Acta Analytica 37 (3).
    According to Grice’s analysis, conversational implicatures are carried by the saying of what is said. In this paper, it is argued that, whenever a speaker implicates a content by flouting one or several maxims, her implicature is not only carried by the act of saying what is said and the way of saying it, but also by the act of non-saying what should have been said according to what would have been normal to say in that particular context. Implicatures that (...)
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  11. Saying, commitment, and the lying – misleading distinction.Neri Marsili & Guido Löhr - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (12):687-698.
    How can we capture the intuitive distinction between lying and misleading? According to a traditional view, the difference boils down to whether the speaker is saying (as opposed to implying) something that they believe to be false. This view is subject to known objections; to overcome them, an alternative view has emerged. For the alternative view, what matters is whether the speaker can consistently deny that they are committed to knowing the relevant proposition. We point out serious flaws for this (...)
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  12. Rejection, denial and the democratic primaries.Luca Incurvati - 2022 - Think 21 (61):105-109.
    Starting from the case of insurance claims, I investigate the dynamics of acceptance, rejection and denial. I show that disagreement can be more varied than one might think. I illustrate this by looking at the Warren/Sanders controversy in the 2020 democratic primaries and at religious agnosticism.
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  13. Conversational maxims as social norms.Megan Henricks Stotts - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    I argue that although Paul Grice’s picture of conversational maxims and conversational implicature is an immensely useful theoretical tool, his view about the nature of the maxims is misguided. Grice portrays conversational maxims as tenets of rationality, but I will contend that they are best seen as social norms. I develop this proposal in connection to Philip Pettit’s account of social norms, with the result that conversational maxims are seen as grounded in practices of social approval and disapproval within a (...)
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  14. Implicatures as Forms of Argument.Fabrizio Macagno & Douglas Walton - 2013 - In Alessandro Capone (ed.), Perspectives on Pragmatics and Philosophy. Berlin, Germany: pp. 203-224.
    In this paper, we use concepts, structure and tools from argumentation theory to show how conversational implicatures are triggered by conflicts of presumptions. Presumptive implicatures are shown to be based on defeasible forms of inference used in conditions of lack of knowledge, including analogical reasoning, inference to the best explanation, practical reasoning, appeal to pity, and argument from cause. Such inferences are modelled as communicative strategies to knowledge gaps that shift the burden of providing the missing contrary evidence to the (...)
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  15. The Myth of Epistemic Implicata.Thorsten Sander - 2021 - Theoria 87 (6):1527-1547.
    Quite a few scholars claim that many implicata are propositions about the speaker's epistemic or doxastic states. I argue, on the contrary, that implicata are generally non-epistemic. Some alleged cases of epistemic implicature are not implicatures in the first place because they do not meet Grice's non-triviality requirement, and epistemic implicata in general would infringe on the maxim of quantity. Epistemic implicatures ought to be construed as members of a larger family of implicature-like phenomena.
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