[lit-ideas] Re: Disimplicatures of "Know"

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2014 15:58:09 -0500 (EST)

We are considering cases of 'know'. Omar brings in the lexical distinction  
made in various languages, including the Romance languages, between 
'knowledge  by acquaintance' and 'propositional knowledge', which is very 
In what follows below, I refer to Grice's alternative analysis.
McEvoy and Omar K. were considering 'iff', necessary and jointly  
sufficient. Grice below uses 'only if', which is interesting.
While Omar K. focuses on cases of negation to claims of knowledge, I should 
 point out that in the revised Griceian analysis, there is a point about 
'p'  being truth being a condition. McEvoy contests this in his reference to 
Newton's  knowledge (being 'false').
Grice's analysis allows for varieties.
He thinks that one IMPLICATURE of "I know that p" (in the passage below)  
may be what Gettier is criticising, i.e. that the alleged knower has 
conclusive  evidence that p, believes that p, and p.
By noting that this is a conversational implicature, Grice is allowing that 
 the _sense_ of the lexeme 'know' is OTHER than that criticised by Gettier, 
and  one which provides only 'only if' conditions and which weakens the 
third  'justification' or 'conclusive evidence' clause, NOT the 'truth' clause 
or the  'belief' clause that McEvoy is contesting.
My application of the idea of 'disimplicature' then would apply to cases  
like McEvoy's, where the 'truth' bit which is seen as ENTAILED by a claim to  
'knowledge' is DROPPED (on occasion --). 
But the whole point may be further contested by McEvoy in that we are not  
into 'conceptual analyses' of any sort, or some such. 
In any case, just for the record then, I append below Grice's commentaries  
not on the Battle of Trafalgar (that Omar K. was discussing) but perhaps 
the  more crucial Battle of Waterloo.
"As every schoolboy knows..." as the idiom goes.
Or not.
In a message dated 1/12/2014 7:47:37 A.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx proposes to think of "a history scholar" who doesn't 
that the Battle of Trafalgar took place in 1805. Rather, this history scholas  
has strong evidence suggesting that it took place in 1804... In this  

i. The history scholar doesn't know that the Battle of Trafalgar  took 
place in 1805.

Omar finds "such usage ... odd and misleading". "Much  more likely I would 

ii. The history scholar doesn't think that the  Battle of Trafalgar took 
place in 1805.  


I agree that in  the field of scientific hypothesis, even, as we have 
agreed with McEvoy, it  seems presumptuous of scientists to refer to themselves 
as "knowing" or to OTHER  scientists as not knowing. So indeed (ii) lacks the 
implication (or entailment)  that the standard use of 'know' carries to the 
effect that what is known is  'true'.

In a different scenario, we have 

iii.  The  high-school student doesn't know that the Battle of Trafalgar 
took place in  1805.

"JTB theory would seem to predict that, since knowledge is absent,  at 
least one of its necessary conditions for knowledge must be missing here, but  
which one is it? It doesn't seem to be either truth or belief or 
justification;  most likely Tom simply hasn't got the relevant information, or 

This seems a different case and it is discussed by Grice at  


So I  will quote him verbatim, if I can:

Grice calls the K as JTB theory of  knowledge the 'strong' theory 
("according to a certain strong account of  knowledge"). He notes that it 
possible difficulties of a regressive  nature ('regressus ad infinitum'). He 
is rephrasing 'justification' with 'A has  conclusive evidence that p'. The 
alleged knower is supposed to have conclusive  evidence for p, and Grice 
wonders if the "strong" theorist also  requires

iv. The alleged knower knows that the evidence is true.
v.  The alleged knower knows that the evidence is conclusive.

(This seems to  be aimed at Gettier-type examples where the evidence is NOT 

Grice  continues:

"But IN GENERAL the theory seems TOO strong."

Here  Grice looks at his own linguistic intuitions for the use of 'know' -- 
an  exercise in 'botany', as it were.

"An examination candidate at an oral  
knows the date of the battle of Waterloo."

June 18 1815

In  propositional terms, to echo Omar,

"The examination candidate knows that  the Battle of Waterloo was fought on 
June 18, 1815."

Grice goes  on:


"He may even  answer after hesitation (showing in the end that he knows the 
answer [that the  battle of Waterloo was fought on June 18, 1816])."

Grice goes therefore,  just because his intuition does not fit the 'strong' 
theory of knowledge to  "suggest something more like the following", which 
I have symbolised  as:

A knows that p
(i) p
(ii) A thinks that  p
(iii) some conditions placing restrictions
---- on how he came to think  p
---- (cfr. causal theory).

Grice then turns to the  'implicature'.

"If I say "I know that p" then perhaps there is a  nonconventional [i.e. 
conversational] implicature of strong or conclusive  evidence (not merely 
thinking that p, with p true) -- cf. "He LOVES her". And  this is not the only 
interpretation of [this] stress; it can also mean, 'You  don't need to tell 
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