[lit-ideas] Re: Lawyers love to argue about words

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 4 Nov 2015 17:42:38 -0500

Especially 'law' -- Hart, who was a lawyer, found the concept of law so
complex that he thought it should be analysed conceptually as a 'rule', and
later found out that there were two types of 'rules': primary or secondary
(or meta-rules). He was professor of Jurisprudence at Oxford and 'learned'
whole generations on how connected the law and conceptual analysis is.

McEvoy was mentionting that a court may not love to argue about words; but
we have to distinguish between a defense laywer, and a prosecutor. Indeed,
this distinction is as vital as Grice/Strawson analytic-synthetic
distinction. It may well be that a defense lawyer makes a valid point, based
conceptual analysis as to the misnaming of this of that law about the misuse
X, based on an analysis of 'mis-' and 'use'. The prosecutor should
disimplicate all that, you know. Some Xs are natural, and they have natural
usages. But with artificial Xs the issue is trickier. To say that the proper
of X is to _heal_ is value-oriented, and societally value-oriented at that.
So the prosecutor should disimplicate all that, while the judge will just
hear till he gives the sentence based on the jury's verdict.

This is all well expounded by Carroll:

`That's the most important piece of evidence we've heard yet,' said the
King, rubbing his hands; `so now let the jury--'
`If any one of them can explain it,' said Alice, (she had grown so large
in the last few minutes that she wasn't a bit afraid of interrupting him,)
`I'll give him sixpence. I don't believe there's a corpuscule of meaning in

The jury all wrote down on their slates, `She doesn't believe there's an
atom of meaning in it,' but none of them attempted to explain the paper.

`Let the jury consider their verdict,' the King said, for about the
twentieth time that day.

`No, no!' said the Queen. `Sentence first--verdict afterwards.'

In a message dated 11/4/2015 3:59:31 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
omarkusto@xxxxxxxxx writes:
Seeing that 'intention' is the judge of meaning in Griceian book, and I am
the only witness as to my intentions... I can lie all I want to.

Not for Watson or most intentionalists including Grice (my favourite:
Wundt). Intention is also a philosophical concept, not just psychological --
used by Brentano and the phenomenologists.

In "From the banal to the bizarre", Grice defines an intention (alla
functionalism) in terms of two further notions:

perceptual input


behavioural output.


i. I can lie all I want to.

may be taken as the behavioural output of O. K. It is an utterance whose
meaning is that the utterer is able to refrain from telling what he believes
is the truth as far as his volition is concerned.

The perceptual input is obviously O. K. having read what he calls the
Griceian book, and others (Geary) call the Griceian Gospel (i.e. the good

This is indeed the Griceian view, in Hampshire's "Thought and Action" (a
much better work than the better known "Intention" by G. E. M. Anscombe) one
is indeed the only witness to one's intentions, but then Hampshire suffered
a lot during the so-called (by Flanagan, in "My Crazy Life"), the 'phoney'




Grice, "Intention and Uncertainty", British Academy lecture
Grice, "Intentions", unpublication -- The Bancroft Library, UC/Berkeley.
Hampshire, Thought and action
Hampshire and Hart, Intention and certainty


Sir Stuart (as he then wasn't) enlisted in the army in 1940, but, partly
due to physical ineptitude (he had great difficulty assembling a gun), he
was soon transferred from the rank of sergeant in a unit of London bus drivers
to a position in army intelligence. It was his encounters, in the capacity
of interrogator, with Nazi officers at the end of the war, especially with
the Gestapo commander Ernst Kaltenbrunner, that led to his insistence,
rare among 20th-century philosophers, on the reality of evil.

This work also led to more nuanced speculation on Hampshire's moral action.
He frequently told the story of how, towards the end of the war, he had to
interrogate a French traitor (imprisoned by the Free French), who refused
to cooperate unless he was allowed to live. Should Hampshire, knowing the
man was condemned to die, promise him a reprieve, which he was in no
position to give, or truthfully refuse it, thereby jeopardising the lives of
Resistance fighters?

"If you're in a war," said Hampshire, "you can't start thinking, 'Well I
can't lie to a man who's going to be shot tomorrow and tell him that he

But what the whole anecdote, and its incessant retelling, revealed was that
Hampshire had, in fact, thought precisely what he said was unthinkable,
and that whichever of the two decisions he finally took lay heavy on his
conscience ever afterwards. Indicatively, too, it was especially loathsome to
him because, although he did not say this in so many words, the traitor was
almost a mirror image of himself - a cultivated young intellectual, looking
like a film star, much influenced by elegant literary stylists - except
that, in the traitor's case, his literary mentors were fascist.

During these wartime years, Hampshire was also tormented with suspicions
about the Soviet spy Kim Philby, who worked in intelligence with him. He
would pace up and down his room at Bletchley Park, saying "There's something
wrong with Philby."

But since he could not substantiate what this was, he did nothing about it
- another theme for remorse. Ironically, long after the defection to Moscow
of Philby's colleagues Guy Burgess and Donald MacLean in 1951, Hampshire
himself was denounced as a spy by Goronwy Rees, another former member of
that circle.
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