2021-09-16Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/25963
Grice and Kant on Maxims and Categories
Apart from a passing reference to Kant, Grice never explains in his writings how he came to discover his conversational maxims. He simply proclaims them without justification. Yet regardless of how his ingenious invention really came about, one might wonder how the conversational maxims can be detected and distinguished from other sorts of maxims. We argue that the conversational maxims can be identified by the use of a transcendental argument in the spirit of Kant. To this end, we introduce Grice’s account of conversational maxims and categories and compare it briefly with Kant’s thoughts on categories. Subsequently, we pursue a thought experiment concerning what would happen if speakers constantly broke one or another of the maxims. It seems that it would not be possible for children to recognize a significant number of lexical meanings under such circumstances. Hence, the conversational maxims are rules whose occasional application is a necessary condition of language and conversation.
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