[lit-ideas] "Have You Stopped Beating Your Husband?"

  • From: Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 22 Jun 2009 18:35:07 EDT

In a message dated 6/22/2009 6:26:00 P.M.  Eastern Daylight Time, 
Jlsperanza writes:
In a message dated 6/22/2009  6:21:08 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time, 
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
There  is an old trick question "How often are there 28 days in February?" 
to which the  correct answer is supposed to be "always", because even in a 
Leap Year there are  still at least 28 days. But the 'implicature' of such a 
question is surely that  we read it as asking "How aften are there only 28 
days, and no more or less, in  February?". 

Grice loved trick questions, as that per the title.

I found out that the earliest equivalent in Latin logic was:
   Tu no cessas edere ferrum
You cease to eat iron.
Grice dedicates 65 pages of his "Causal Theory of Perception" -- now online 
 in S. Bayne's history-of-analytic-philosophy website -- to the trick  
For him, the implicature holds in the negative, not in the  affirmative:
    No, I have not stopped because I never started.
    Yes, I have stopped -- and I feel relieved about that  (<---- for 
scenarios of the hubby-beating wife).
I had forgotten that Stubbs (who also mentions the "Jeopardy" Henry-VIII's  
number of wives, also mentions the leap year.
How many balls (at least) must a bat have?
Similarly, for the question,
   "Where is your wife?"
   "In the dining room or in the kitchen"
-- the implicature is cancellable for houses with a passage that connects  
both, and when the wife is lying in between.
J. L.
**************Make your summer sizzle with fast and easy recipes for the 
grill. (http://food.aol.com/grilling?ncid=emlcntusfood00000004)
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  • » [lit-ideas] "Have You Stopped Beating Your Husband?" - Jlsperanza