[lit-ideas] Disposition and Implicature

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 30 Apr 2010 12:01:58 EDT

We are discussing Searle's example of an 'indirect-speech act':
 
"Can you pass me the salt?"
 
to mean, via implicature:
 
"if you can, do so."
 

In a message dated 4/30/2010 3:59:14, donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx  comments:
 
On the assumption that
 
>there's salt in the container. ... passing the container is also  passing 
its contents. 
 
Yes. But that's a short-circuit (implicature). If what the 'utterer' wants  
is the addressee to hand him the 'sodium', there's no real need to REFER to 
the  container, is there?
 
----
 
McEvoy then considers the following conversational exchange:
 
A: Did you take Abigail to school?
 
B: No. Literally, I took the *car* to school.
 
A: *Without* Abigail?
 
B: She was in it, if that's what you're getting at. 
 
--------
 
I submit this is not really 'synechdoche' as is the 'salt' vs. 'saltER'.  
It's possibly an Americanism too ("Did you DRIVE Abigail to school?").
 
McEvoy continues:

"CAN you pass me the salt?" is generally a way of [saying, "Salt!"]. Of  
course, if there was a question of whether the person was able to comply, the  
"can" would have different meaning."
 
That's your (big) mistake. It's Hart's inability to see things clearly. He  
was of the renowned Anglo-Jewish community in Harrogate. When in Oxford, he 
 claimed that all reports of 'cause' (in the law) are criminal -- Grice 
opposed  this view. "Can" does NOT get a 'different' meaning in not-criminal 
cases.
 
"Can you walk?"
 
--- This is Hart's DISABILITY view of things. "What was the cause of his  
not passing the salt(container)?". Etc.
 

"I can, that is "am able", to run down a pedestrian in my car. It does  not 
follow that I ought to."
 
You miss my (clear) point.
 
What Kant said was:
 
"ought implies can" -- vide Sinnot-Armstrong, ""Ought" conversationally  
implicates "Can"" (Philosophical Review).
 
What Grice notes is that
 
if you say,
 
"He can be electrified", it is because what follows "can" is the realm of  
human action.
 
"It can rain." tomorrow. Is that a disposition from the sky?

-----
 
"At a loss as to how "implicature" saves the day here."
 
Perhaps it would be clear to you if you do define, "--virgin" as "the hymen 
 is breakable". You disgressed in focusing on 'virginity' as a state. I was 
 just referring to the physical condition of the hymen. The hymen is 
BREAKABLE.  Once it's broken, the person is no longer a virgin (in your 
idiolect). 
My  point is that the disposition is STILL there. Since it was a  
counterfactual in the first place (and counterfactuals cannot be verified),  
strictly, "once a virgin, always a virgin". To think otherwise is  
deterministic.
 
--

J. L. Speranza
--- for the GriceClub.blogspots.com
 
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