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ERIC Number: ED551340
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 140
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2677-7489-7
Reasonable Language: An Integrative Study of Paul Grice's Theories of Meaning, Reasoning, and Value
Kurle, BonnieJean
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Purdue University
Three worries seem to plague Grice's theory of meaning. If, as Grice seems to hold, utterer intentions, including the meaning intention (M-intention), are to be epistemically prior to what some utterance--what some sentence or phrase-means, then one should be able to translate utterances from a language radically different from one's own, merely by accessing the M-intention. Yet such cannot be done without first understanding the utterance. Such is the Davidsonian Doubt. When an utterer S utters something x with an M-intention, S means something, which might not be the same thing as the utterance x's meaning. Call what S means the "S-meaning" and what the utterance-type means "U-meaning." Given the psychological priority of speaker centrism, U-meaning should at least be analyzed in terms of S-meaning, and ultimately in terms of the M-intention. Yet Grice sometimes analyzes U-meaning without any reference or seeming need for M-intentions, and sometimes analyzes S-meaning in terms of U-meaning, violating so-called "speaker centrism." Hence, the Priority Ambiguity. If Grice intends his analysis of the M-intention to be an account of its constitutive elements, then the indefinitely many intentions that constitute an adequate M-intention give reason to doubt both the capacity of any finite utterer to have an M-intention and the ability of any finite audience to calculate it and thereby comprehend meaning. But clearly we do understand meanings, so this complexity is problematic. This final worry is thus over M-intention Complexity. If Grice intended his to be an account of the elements of an M-intention and that this intention be epistemically more accessible than meanings, then his account is deeply flawed, and we have good reason to reconsider its merit. The Doubt and the Ambiguity are motivated by and entail a reductionist program. Such a program analyzes concepts in terms of other concepts taken to be more epistemically or ontologically basic. Given reductionism, circularity is a serious flaw. The traditional interpretation holds that Grice epistemically reduces the semantic (U-meaning) to the psychological (intentions); i.e., they understand him to hold that the psychological is epistemically more accessible than the semantic. But Grice rejected reductionism, thus the traditional interpretation of Grice as a reductionist and the problems that follow from it are beside the point. Grice had a unique "constructivist" approach to analysis whereby related entities a and ß are on a par, allowing for a to be analyzed in terms of ß in one conceptual scheme and ß in terms of a in another without any vicious circularity. Grice's constructivism also allows for multiple conceptual schemes within a single ontological scheme (e.g., the semantic). And it entails that there are no basic entities. By showing that the Doubt and the Ambiguity both rely on reductionism, and by demonstrating Grice's constructivism to be anti-reductionist, I demonstrate that the first two important worries are irrelevant. Grice's constructivism entails that whenever there is a "rational demand"--a logical or conceptual need for explanatory entities--there is justification for the "construction" of such entities, and of theories that account for their interrelation, by means of a set of "construction routines." Since Grice's theory of meaning intersects psychological and semantic concepts, there is a rational demand for an account of not only their interrelation, but also of each concept. Grice supplies such in his widely neglected works on reason and value. Reinterpreting Grice's theory of meaning according to his constructivist program in light of his theories of reason and value both justifies the discarding of the Doubt and the Ambiguity and lays the groundwork for a rethinking of M-intention Complexity. That the explanation of x is complex need not entail that x is likewise complex. The regress that makes up the M-intention Complexity is a feature of explanation, not constitution: it is an explanatory, not ontological or epistemological regress. As such, it is not only benign, but is in fact characteristic of a "reciprocal" analysis. Concepts in a constructivist program are analyzed in terms of each other with no contradiction, depending upon which conceptual scheme the analysis presupposes. To worry about it in Grice's account of meaning is to misunderstand him. And to worry about explanatory complexity is to fail to grasp his constructivism. Thus, the reductionist traditional interpretation of Paul Grice's theory of meaning needs to be discarded and replaced with an integrative interpretation like mine--an interpretation based on his constructivism. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
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