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implicature


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Term introduced by Grice for the implications of an utterance that go beyond what is strictly implied by the content of the utterance. Thus, if I am asked what I think of my new colleague and I reply, ‘They tell me his spelling is good’, then although nothing about his philosophical abilities follows from what I actually say, nevertheless my saying it implies that I hold a low opinion of those abilities. A conversation may largely hinge on implicatures, as when one damns with faint praise. Views about the meanings of terms will often depend on classifying the implications of sayings involving the terms as implicatures or as genuine logical implications of what is said. Implicatures may be divided into two kinds: conversational implicatures of the kind illustrated, and the more subtle category of conventional implicatures. Here a term may have the same content as another, but its use may as a matter of convention carry an implicature. Thus one view of the relation between ‘he is poor and honest’ and ‘he is poor but honest’ is that they have the same content (are true in just the same conditions), but that as a matter of the meaning of the term ‘but’ the second has implicatures (that the combination is surprising or significant) that the first lacks.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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