[lit-ideas] Re: The retreat to commitment

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 16 Feb 2015 07:07:38 -0500

In a message dated 2/15/2015 5:52:50 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
donalmcevoyuk@xxxxxxxxxxx writes:
My last post today.
O. K. is right that there are deictic elements -- he refers to spatial or  
'geographical' -- associated with 'today'.
But I think McEvoy is further implicating two other things:
One is the idea that what he meant by "My last post today" is that that was 
 his last post on the day when he uttered the utterance. Usually, posts 
have  _further_ content; hence the paradox of a post announcing that it will be 
the  last post on the day when it was posted.
More importantly, he further implicates that he is defending W. W. Bartley, 
 III, against Grice. Grice invented implicature as a type of 'implication' 
(never  logical implication, or entailment, to which Bartley dedicates a 
chapter in his  book -- on revisability in logic -- he adheres to Quine's 
rejection of the  analytic). 
An implicature is cancellable, indeterminate, and defeasible. I.e. hardly  
W. W. Bartley, III's retreat to commitment.
McEvoy is following a Griceian maxim,
"Do not say what you believe to be false".

Therefore, we have to assume that he meant
1. [This is] my last post today.
as true. Seing that this was the only post he sent on the day in question,  
this poses the question.
Suppose McEvoy is walking with a child who spits on the floor on a number  
of occasions. On the third occasion the child does this McEvoy says:
2. This is the last time I'll tell you this: it is bad manners to spit on  
the floor.
The child -- who is not a Griceian may challenge (alla W. W. Bartley, III  
-- "Everything is critisable") on various grounds:
3. This is the first time you tell me this. How can it be the last.
The collocation
"first and last"
is VERY common. "Last and first" is perhaps less common.
From a Griceian perspective, (1) is indeed true. There is a suggestion, or  
implicature, attached to the use of 'last' that evokes the idea that there 
was a  'first' predating the 'last'. But this is not so. That this is so is 
easily  shown by cancelling this unwanted implicature of (1) as per (4)
4. [This is] my last post today; indeed my first.
Grice's argument, _contra_ W. W. Bartley, III, relies on 'do not multiply  
senses beyond necessity'. There is nothing in the _sense_ of 'last' that  
falsifies (1). 
"Last and first" is also the title of a poem by Tennyson.

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