[lit-ideas] Griceian Contextualism

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 28 Jul 2012 11:26:57 -0400 (EDT)

McEvoy refers to a link that reads, inter alia, the utterance:

"Crap! Robin Hood airport is closed. You've got a week and a bit to get  
your shit together otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!"

and goes  on to note that context is, er, important, or everything. It may 
do to analyse  in greater detail the implicata (as per implicature) of the 
above. Or not. 
McCreery raises a point in connection with W. O.: "Context is everything"  
is self-contradictory, "Propositional content is everything" is  
It may do:
--- to proceed case by case. In McEvoy's editorial, he does not refer to  
the utterance, which is only LINKED, and goes on to provide commentary on 
other  types of utterance, "My name is Mickey Mouse" --extant person, definite  
description, 'mouse' -- etc. 
The link McEvoy provides commentary on, but it may do to deal with this  
alla Grice. Alas, J. Stanley, the founder of contextualism, is not too clear 
on  this, and we may have to proceed case by case. But I don't think that 
general  remarks, like "It was meant as a joke" will serve the Griceian in us.
---- So, a serious philosophical (as per 'philosophy of language') account  
as to whether the law is an ass (as the chains of e-mail in the link 
provided by  McEvoy indicate) is tautologous, etc.
Grice, in his essay, "Context":

"Philosophers often say  that context is very important. Let us  take this 
remark seriously. Surely, if we  do, we shall want to  consider this remark 
["context is very important", or as   hyperbolically McEvoy puts it re: "My 
name is Mickey Mouse" -- context  is  everything] not merely in its 
relation to 
this or that problem [e.g  Mickey  Mouse], i.e. in context, but also in 
itself, i.e. out of  context. If we are to  take THIS seriously, we must be 
systematic, that  is, thorough and orderly. If we  are to be orderly we 
must start 
with  what is relatively simple. HERE, though not  of course everywhere, to 
be simple is to be as abstract as possible; by this I  mean merely that  we 
want, to begin with, to have as few cards on the table as we  can.  
will then consist in seeing first what we can do with the  cards  we have; 
and when we think that we have exhausted
the  investigation, we put  another card on the table, and see what that  
enables us to do."
Stanley goes on to provide further implications for the study of context.  
He concludes, "Implicatures happen". But still, to look for general remarks, 
 like, "it was a joke", don't do for the Griceian.
The Griceian, indeed, locates 'propositional content' -- somewhere. It is  
somewhere in the realm of the EXplicit, as it were. But goes on to elucidate 
on  the IMplicit, which goes by various varieties. There is the 
IMplicature, and  there is the DISIMplicature ("I meant it as a joke") and so 
on. In 
all cases,  the idea is to bring in an 'intention', in this case, on the 
original tweeter,  and the 'uptake' on recipients of his tweet. One indeed took 
the tweet as a  THREAT and proceeded accordingly. If we want to generalise 
what's going on here  we may have to realise that uttering a near otiosity 
such as "context is  everything, what a day" won't SAVE the day. Etc.
Stanley notes that 
"It is raining"
lacks a context. ("I hope I don't mean in Indochina"). Grice's examples, in 
 logical form, do not help us with context either:

"There is a generalised conversational implicature to the effect that  the 
utterer of "p v q" implicates that he does not know for certain any of its  
disjuncts" -- and so on.
In any case, Grice is a philosopher and he is not here to analyse specific  
TWEETS. What he says, in context, has GENERAL significance, and so on.
----- In a paper on "Freedom", Grice speaks of -free as modifying sugar,  
'sugar-free'. Chomsky took on this and speaks of 'context-sensitive' and  
context-free. In general, a pirot, to use Grice's term, be better be  
context-sensitive, even if freedom was a value for Kant, if not Aristotle (vide 
"Kantotle"). And so on.


In a message dated 7/27/2012  11:34:47 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time, 
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
That  the court noted [without citing Robert Paul] 'context is everything' 
was  reported elsewhere:
Personally,  I would advise anyone to heed the words of warning from the 
lawyer at the end of  the report. Courts need quite some context to accept 
that something was just a  joke: certainly those who tried to run a 'just a 
joke' defence, for inciting  others to riot on social media, last year received 
short shrift. And in a case  some twenty years it was held that while not 
giving your name at all could not  be regarded as 'obstructing the police in 
the course of their duty' (where the  police asked for it in the course of 
their duty), it was obstruction if you  answered 'Micky Mouse' (and your name 
was not Micky Mouse). The High Court did  not make clear whether this 
result is because 'Micky Mouse' is a name of extant  persons (and so might not 
obviously be a joke) or simply isn't funny enough. The  decision was 
criticised by Sir John Smith, which - with a name as common as that  - is 
only to be expected, but remains the law. The appellant should be  thankful he 
used clearly non-serious expression, but even then anyone trying the  like 
remains vulnerable to changes in actual terrorist expression: should  
terrorists adopt a bright and breezy tone in their threats ['With some 
have planted a bomb/Act fast/Or you may breath your last'], we may find the  
courts no longer accept there is a way of expressing yourself that clearly 
puts  you beyond menacing. All those baddies in superhero movies, who express 
threats  as idiotic wisecracks presumably to circumvent the law, take note. 
Who found out on Monday he will not be lighting the flame  tonight
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