Conversational maxims as social norms

Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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 given group. This shift to seeing conversational maxims as social norms has several advantages. First, it allows us to neatly accommodate possible variation with respect to the maxims across well-functioning linguistic groups. Second, it facilitates a more psychologically plausible account of flouting. And third, it generates insights about the nature of social norms themselves.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 83,890

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Innocent implicatures.Alexander Dinges - 2015 - Journal of Pragmatics 87:54-63.
Quantity, volubility, and some varieties of discourse.Mitchell S. Green - 1995 - Linguistics and Philosophy 18 (1):83 - 112.
Truthfulness and Gricean Cooperation.Andreas Stokke - 2016 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 93 (3):489-510.
Conversational implicatures and cancellability.Steffen Borge - 2009 - Acta Analytica 24 (2):149-154.
Imaginative resistance and conversational implicature.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Philosophical Quarterly 60 (240):586-600.


Added to PP

39 (#323,939)

6 months
8 (#119,504)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Megan Henricks Stotts
McMaster University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references