[lit-ideas] two grice for the price of one,saturday night special

  • From: Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 21 Mar 2015 20:13:29 +0000

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Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Hartiana

Hart was a virtuous legal philosopher. 
My last post today!
Why do moral theorists such as Grice and Grice use 'contract', and 
quasi-contract, when they don't mean it. Cfr. Locke on compact?
Is there a legal implicature, there, somewhere?
(Grice and Grice refer to Grice the author of "Studies in the way of words" 
 and Grice the author of "The grounds of moral judgement"). 
As Ann Cudd says, "the metaphor of the social contract requires some 
interpretation in order to apply it to the situation of morality or politics", 
so Grice and Grice are being _metaphorical_ (or figurative). Literally, there 
is  no contract (even if 'literalness' IS one of the _figures_ of speech, even 
if a  boring one).
Of course, we have to distinguish as to whether Grice and Grice are proposing 
contractarianism or mere contractualism. 
Contractarianism has its roots in Hobbes, whose account is based on mutual 
self-interest. Morality consists in those forms of cooperative behaviour that 
it  is mutually advantageous for self-interested agents to engage in. 
(The most  prominent modern exponent is David Gauthier).
By contrast, any form of contractualism is grounded on the equal moral status 
of persons.
----- One may still need to study the legal implicature behind the use of 
'contract', even if figurative, in both contractualism, contractarianism, and  
Grice's quasi-contractualism.
But back to O. K.'s point about 'Hart is virtuous' being kind of vacuous, or 
rather seldom made, qua utterance (I should revise his actual wording), I  
found further evidence for the contrary -- what's the fun of philosophy if  we 
are not going to discuss?
For Socrates, virtue is one.

The Stoics adhered to the Socratic  doctrine that virtue is one. 

For Plato, granted, virtues are  four:

temperance: σωφροσύνη (sōphrosynē)
prudence: φρόνησις  (phronēsis)
courage: ἀνδρεία (andreia)
justice: δικαιοσύνη  (dikaiosynē)

But D. Carr, however (in "the cardinal virtues and Plato's  psychologism", 
Philosophical Quarterly) considers either of the above FOUR  virtue 
combinations as mutually reducible and therefore NOT  cardinal.

Gregory Vlastos goes further. In "The Unity of virtues in the "Protagoras"", 
Review of Metaphysics, 25) Vlastos argues alla Grice that  Plato subscribes to 
a unified view of virtues -- 'virtue is entire'. 

In  "Protagoras" (and also in "Meno") Plato argues that the separate virtues  
can't exist independently.

Plato offers as evidence the logical  contradiction of saying that Smith, for 
example, acted with wisdom, yet in an  unjust way. Or that Smith acted with 
bravery (fortitude), yet without  wisdom.

Plato was a philosopher, i.e. a lover of wisdom, and this  possibly biased into 
thinking that virtue is synonymous with wisdom -- and that  it can be taught 
(possibly at the Academy -- no fee required. Things changed  with Aristotle). 
(Geary disagrees: "Plato taught love-of-wisdom; not wisdom"). 

Seneca, the Roman Stoic, also held that virtue is entire -- even if he perhaps 
lacked it. 

His reasoning is, like Plato, based on linguistic analysis -- now Latin, not 

Seneca explicitly says that perfect prudence is  indistinguishable from perfect 

"Considering all consequences, a  prudent man would act in the identical way as 
a virtuous person."

"If  that's not a linguistic proof that virtue is entire, I don't know what  

Nero found that VERY offensive and ordered Seneca to commit  suicide. This was 
not 'by law'; for otherwise Seneca could have appealed (vide  Hart, "Law as 
coercive orders", in "The Concept of Law"). 

The thesis of  the Unity of Virtue happens to be then a well-known tenet of 
ancient  Graeco-Roman ethics, and Griceian one, at that.

The strongest version of  the thesis, is held by Socrates and Plato. As Grice 
puts it, it states that  Virtue is One (said solemnly).

A weaker but still very strong version of  the thesis for the integrity of 
virtue claims rather that there are  various virtues (like branches of 
philosophy -- Grice's point about saying  that Hart is ONLY a  'legal' 
philosopher (or Oxford's "man at  legal philosophy") gets, via something like 
damn by faint praise, that Hart was  not good at philosophy) are SO INTEGRATED 
with each other that a  person cannot have one virtue without having all the 

To have one virtue, in other words, is to have them all. (Mutatis mutandis, 
there is only one problem in philosophy, namely all of them).  

One cannot be truly courageous unless one is also just; one cannot be truly 
just unless one is also generous, as well as temperate, magnanimous, truthful, 
friendly, witty and so on.  

On the face of it, however,  this thesis SEEMS plainly false.  

Indeed, on most of the occasions  in which the Stoics exposed the thesis of the 
Unity of the Virtues it  was scornfully dismissed as one of the weakest aspects 
of Graeco-Roman  ethics -- it became fashionable again with Cato 
the  younger.   

The thesis of the integrity of virtue is  a puzzle that generates the right 
conversational implicature. For something can  be true BUT misleading -- or 
'misleading but true' -- Myro, who knew Grice well  once formulated a "Grice 
rule": if what Grice says strikes me first as  plainly false, it is ultimately 
true; and vice versa"). 

The thesis that virtue (like philosophy) is entire is not an empirical thesis, 
arrived at or supported by empirical evidence, neither is it a  
straightforwardly normative thesis of the kind just mentioned.   

Rather, the thesis is one that falls out of a broader normative view as  a 

It may be understood as the conclusion of an argument  that rests in part on 
normative and analytic premises.  

Moreover,  it seems to me that the premises of the argument are quite plausible 
and that  therefore the argument in favour of a qualified form of the thesis is 
quite  strong.

The classical Graeco-Roman (and indeed Griceian) thesis of the  unity of virtue 
is understood to imply that to have one virtue is to have them  all.  

If a person is courageous, according to this thesis, then he  will also be 
generous, just, truthful, and temperate.  

Similarly,  if he is just, he will possess courage as well as all the rest of 
the  virtues.

Grice does not elaborate the point, but if virtue is entire, so is vice.  
One of his adages against weakness of the will was of a man being 'caught in 
the  grip of a vice', but he admitted the utterance could trigger the wrong 
implicature in context -- especially in Oxford if not America.
In Oxford, what Americans call a vise is a vice, and so, 'he was caught in the 
grip of a vice' may well mean, in Oxford, that he is held by the tool that  
carpenters use.
vice1 -- Latin vitium "defect, offense, blemish, imperfection," in both 
physical and moral senses (in Medieval Latin also vicium; source also of 
Italian  vezzo "usage, entertainment"), from PIE *wi-tio-, from root *wei- 
"vice,  fault, guilt." 
vice2 -- (spelt 'vice' in America) Anglo-French vice, Old French vis, viz 
"screw," from Latin vitis "vine, tendril of a vine," literally "that which 
winds," from root of viere "to bind, twist" (see withy). Also in Middle 
English,  "device like a screw or winch for bending a crossbow or catapult; 
spiral  staircase; the screw of a press; twisted tie for fastening a hood under 
the  chin." The modern meaning "clamping tool with two jaws closed by a screw" 
is  first recorded c.1500.
But Hart _knew_ that!

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