About this topic
Summary Paul Grice coined the term 'implicature' and the two sub-categories of it: conventional implicature and conversational implicature. Conversational implicatures are what speakers means in addition to or instead of what they literally say and on the basis of the particular conversational context in which they made their utterances. More specifically, conversational implicatures closely relate to Grice's Cooperative Principle, "Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged." Grice contends that speakers observe this principle as a matter of rationality. Speakers then observer (or ostentatiously flout) Grice's four maxims of Quality, Quantity, Relation, and Manner, and thereby observe the Cooperative Principle. Audiences may then assume that a speaker is observing the Cooperative Principle (and observing or flouting its corresponding maxims) in order to work out what the speaker conversationally implicated. As with all implicatures, however, the speaker can always cancel an assumed implicature. 
Key works The first, and most important key work is Grice's "Logic and Conversation"in Grice 1989, in which Grice lays out the initial account of implicature, including conversational implicature. Bach 1994 offers an updated version based on the claim that "the distinction between what is said and what is implicated is not exhaustive." Davis 1998 argues that the Gricean account of conversational implicature fails.
Introductions Grice 1989 Bach 1994
Related categories

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  1. A Note on Kehler & Ward (2006).Barbara Abbott, Andrew Kehler & Gregory Ward - unknown
    expression that indicates hearer-familiarity conversationally implicates that the referent is in fact nonfamiliar to the hearer” (KW 177, emphasis in original, footnote added). The purpose of this note is two-fold: first, to look more closely at the proposed implicature; and second, to clarify its relation to a different implicature – a scalar implicature of nonuniqueness resulting from use of the indefinite rather than the definite article, which was proposed by Hawkins (1991). In the first section below we distinguish explicit from (...)
  2. Infelicitous Cancellation: The Explicit Cancellability Test for Conversational Implicature Revisited.Jonas Åkerman - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):1-10.
    This paper questions the adequacy of the explicit cancellability test for conversational implicature as it is commonly understood. The standard way of understanding this test relies on two assumptions: first, that that one can test whether a certain content is conversationally implicated, by checking whether that content is cancellable, and second, that a cancellation is successful only if it results in a felicitous utterance. While I accept the first of these assumptions, I reject the second one. I argue that a (...)
  3. Paul Grice on Indicative Conditionals.Rani Lill Anjum - manuscript
    Grice argues that indicative conditionals ‘if p then q’ have conventional, truth conditional meaning according to the material conditional ‘p  q’. In order to explain away the known paradoxes with this interpretation, he distinguishes between truth conditions and assertion conditions, attempting to demonstrate that the assumed connection between ‘p’ and ‘q’ (the Indirectness Condition) is a conversational implicature; hence a matter only relevant for the assertion conditions of a conditional. This paper argues that Grice fails to demonstrate i) that (...)
  4. Paul Grice.Rani Lill Anjum - 2012 - In Joose Järvenkylä & Ilmari Kortelainen (eds.), Tavallisen kielen filosofia.
    Often we mean something else than what we have said explicitly. Consider the following scenario. I show up in a new flashy dress and ask my friend what she thinks of it. She always tries to help me improve my style and knows that I value her honest opinion. She looks at my dress and says: ‘Excellent fit, but have you gone colour blind?’. From what she says I do not take it that she is interested in whether I’ve got (...)
  5. Logic, Meaning, and Conversation: Semantical Underdeterminacy, Implicature, and Their Interface.Jay David Atlas - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
    This fresh look at the philosophy of language focuses on the interface between a theory of literal meaning and pragmatics--a philosophical examination of the relationship between meaning and language use and its contexts. Here, Atlas develops the contrast between verbal ambiguity and verbal generality, works out a detailed theory of conversational inference using the work of Paul Grice on Implicature as a starting point, and gives an account of their interface as an example of the relationship between Chomsky's Internalist Semantics (...)
  6. Grice, H. Paul.Kent Bach - manuscript
    GRICE, H. PAUL (1913-1988), English philosopher, is best known for his contributions to the theory of meaning and communication. This work (collected in Grice 1989) has had lasting importance for philosophy and linguistics, with implications for cognitive science generally. His three most influential contributions concern the nature of communication, the distinction betwen speaker's meaning and linguistic meaning, and the phenomenon of conversational implicature.
  7. Conversational Impliciture.Kent Bach - 2013 - In Maite Ezcurdia & Robert J. Stainton (eds.), The Semantics-Pragmatics Boundary in Philosophy. Broadview Press. pp. 284.
  8. The Top 10 Minconceptions About Implicature.Kent Bach - 2005 - In Festchrift for Larry Horn. John Benjamins.
    I’ve known about conversational implicature a lot longer than I’ve known Larry. In 1967 I read Grice’s “Logical and Conversation” in mimeograph, shortly after his William James lectures, and I read its precursor “(Implication),” section III of “The Causal Theory of Perception”, well before that. And I’ve thought, read, and written about implicature off and on ever since. Nevertheless, I know a lot less about it than Larry does, and that’s not even taking into account everything he has uncovered about (...)
  9. Festchrift for Larry Horn.Kent Bach (ed.) - 2005 - John Benjamins.
  10. Conversational Impliciture.Kent Bach - 1994 - Mind and Language 9 (2):124-162.
    Confusion in terms inspires confusion in concepts. When a relevant distinction is not clearly marked or not marked at all, it is apt to be blurred or even missed altogether in our thinking. This is true in any area of inquiry, pragmatics in particular. No one disputes that there are various ways in which what is communicated in an utterance can go beyond sentence meaning. The problem is to catalog the ways. It is generally recognized that linguistic meaning underdetermines speaker (...)
  11. The Epigenesis of Conversational Interaction: A Personal Account of Research Development.Mary C. Bateson - 1979 - In M. Bullowa (ed.), Before Speech: The Beginning of Human Communication. Cambridge University Press. pp. 63--77.
  12. Un punto a favor de Russell.Pierre Baumann - 2015 - Retorno 1 (1):35-48.
  13. A Pragmatic Defense of Millianism.Arvid Båve - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (2):271 - 289.
    A new kind of defense of the Millian theory of names is given, which explains intuitive counter-examples as depending on pragmatic effects of the relevant sentences, by direct application of Grice’s and Sperber and Wilson’s Relevance Theory and uncontroversial assumptions. I begin by arguing that synonyms are always intersubstitutable, despite Mates’ considerations, and then apply the method to names. Then, a fairly large sample of cases concerning names are dealt with in related ways. It is argued that the method, as (...)
  14. Does Prosody Play a Specific Role in Conversational Humor?Roxane Bertrand & Beatrice Priego Valverde - 2011 - Pragmatics and Cognition 19 (2):333-356.
  15. The Implicit Dimension of Meaning: Ways of “Filling In” and “Filling Out” Content.Anne Bezuidenhout - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (1):89-109.
    I distinguish between the classical Gricean approach to conversational implicatures , which I call the action-theoretic approach, and the approach to CIs taken in contemporary cognitive science. Once we free ourselves from the AT account, and see implicating as a form of what I call “conversational tailoring”, we can more easily see the many different ways that CIs arise in conversation. I will show that they arise not only on the basis of a speaker’s utterance of complete sentences but also (...)
  16. Generalized Conversational Implicatures and Default Pragmatic Inferences.Anne Bezuidenhout - 2002 - In Joseph K. Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & David Shier (eds.), Meaning and Truth - Investigations in Philosophical Semantics. Seven Bridges Press. pp. 257--283.
  17. Implicating.Claudia Bianchi - 2013 - In Pragmatics of Speech Actions, Handbooks of Pragmatics (HoPs) Vol. 2.
    Implicating, as it is conceived in recent pragmatics, amounts to conveying a (propositional) content without saying it – a content providing no contribution to the truth-conditions of the proposition expressed by the sentence uttered. In this sense, implicating is a notion closely related to the work of Paul Grice (1913-1988) and of his precursors, followers and critics. Hence, the task of this article is to introduce and critically examine the explicit/implicit distinction, the Gricean notion of implicature (conventional and conversational) and (...)
  18. Conversational Implicatures (and How to Spot Them).Michael Blome-Tillmann - 2013 - Philosophy Compass 8 (2):170-185.
    In everyday conversations we often convey information that goes above and beyond what we strictly speaking say: exaggeration and irony are obvious examples. H.P. Grice introduced the technical notion of a conversational implicature in systematizing the phenomenon of meaning one thing by saying something else. In introducing the notion, Grice drew a line between what is said, which he understood as being closely related to the conventional meaning of the words uttered, and what is conversationally implicated, which can be inferred (...)
  19. Conversational Implicature and the Cancellability Test.Michael Blome-Tillmann - 2008 - Analysis 68 (2):156-160.
  20. Conversational Implicature and the Referential Use of Descriptions.Thomas D. Bontly - 2005 - Philosophical Studies 125 (1):1 - 25.
    This paper enters the continuing fray over the semantic significance of Donnellan’s referential/attributive distinction. Some holdthat the distinction is at bottom a pragmatic one: i.e., that the difference between the referential use and the attributive use arises at the level of speaker’s meaning rather the level of sentence-or utterance-meaning. This view has recently been challenged byMarga Reimer andMichael Devitt, both of whom argue that the fact that descriptions are regularly, that is standardly, usedto refer defeats the pragmatic approach. The present (...)
  21. Communication, Conflict and Cooperation.Steffen Borge - 2012 - ProtoSociology 29.
    According to Steven Pinker and his associates the cooperative model of human communication fails, because evolutionary biology teaches us that most social relationships, including talk-exchange, involve combinations of cooperation and conflict. In particular, the phenomenon of the strategic speaker who uses indirect speech in order to be able to deny what he meant by a speech act (deniability of conversational implicatures) challenges the model. In reply I point out that interlocutors can aim at understanding each other (cooperation), while being in (...)
  22. Conversational Implicatures and Cancellability.Steffen Borge - 2009 - Acta Analytica 24 (2):149-154.
    In this paper I argue against a criticism by Matthew Weiner to Grice’s thesis that cancellability is a necessary condition for conversational implicature. I argue that the purported counterexamples fail because the supposed failed cancellation in the cases Weiner presents is not meant as a cancellation but as a reinforcement of the implicature. I moreover point out that there are special situations in which the supposed cancellation may really work as a cancellation.
  23. Maps and Absent Symbols.Ben Bronner - 2015 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (1):43-59.
    ABSENCE is the claim that, if a symbol appears on a map, then absence of the symbol from some map coordinate signifies absence of the corresponding property from the corresponding location. This claim is highly intuitive and widely endorsed. And if it is true, then cartographic representation is strikingly different from linguistic representation. I argue, however, that ABSENCE is false of various maps and that we have no reason to believe it is true of any maps. The intuition to the (...)
  24. Conversational Implicature, Communicative Intentions, and Content.Ray Buchanan - 2013 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (5):720-740.
    (2013). Conversational implicature, communicative intentions, and content. Canadian Journal of Philosophy: Vol. 43, Essays on the Nature of Propositions, pp. 720-740.
  25. Modality and Implicature.Noel Burton-Roberts - 1984 - Linguistics and Philosophy 7 (2):181 - 206.
  26. Are Explicatures Cancellable?Alessandro Capone - 2009 - Intercultural Pragmatics 6 (1):55-83.
    Explicatures are not cancellable. Theoretical considerations.
  27. Modal Adverbs and Discourse.Alessandro Capone - 2001 - ETS.
    modal adverbs and discourse implicatures semantics.
  28. Experimenting with (Conditional) Perfection.Fabrizio Cariani & Lance J. Rips - manuscript
    We present and discuss a series of experiments designed to test one of the most promising pragmatic accounts of conditional perfection—the phenomenon according to which conditionals can sometimes be strengthened to biconditionals. We test the idea that conditional perfection is a form of exhaustification triggered by the kind of question that the conditional is used to answer. We uncover evidence that conditional perfection is a form of exhaustification, but not that it is triggered by a relationship to a salient question.
  29. Informativeness, Relevance and Scalar Implicature.Robyn Carston - unknown
    The idea is that, in a wide range of contexts, utterances of the sentences in (a) in each case will communicate the assumption in (b) in each case (or something closely akin to it, there being a certain amount of contextually governed variation in the speaker's propositional attitude and so the scope of the negation). These scalar inferences are taken to be one kind of (generalized) conversational implicature. As is the case with pragmatic inference quite generally, these inferences are defeasible (...)
  30. Truth-Conditional Content and Conversational Implicature.Robyn Carston - 2004 - In Claudia Bianchi (ed.), The Semantics/Pragmatics Distinction. CSLI Publications. pp. 65--100.
  31. Postscript (1995) to "Implicature, Explicature, and Truth-Theoretic Semantics".Robyn Carston - 1998 - In Asa Kasher (ed.), Pragmatics: Critical Concepts: Volume IV: Presupposition, Implicature and Indirect Speech Acts. Routledge. pp. 464-479.
  32. Implicature, Explicature, and Truth-Theoretic Semantics.Robyn Carston - 1988 - In Ruth M. Kempson (ed.), Mental representations: The interface between language and reality. Cambridge Univ. Press. pp. 155–181.
  33. Implicature and Explicature.Robyn Carston & Alison Hall - 2012 - In Hans-Jörg Schmid (ed.), Cognitive Pragmatics. pp. 47-84.
  34. Can the Conversationalist Hypothesis Be Defended?L. Jonathan Cohen - 1977 - Philosophical Studies 31 (2):81 - 90.
  35. Conversational Implicatures Are Still Cancellable.Roberta Colonna Dahlman - 2013 - Acta Analytica 28 (3):321-327.
    Is it true that all conversational implicatures are cancellable? In some recent works (Weiner Analysis 66(2):127–130, 2004, followed by Blome-Tillmann Analysis 68(2):156–160, 2008 and, most recently, by Hazlett 2012), the property of cancellability that, according to Grice (1989), conversational implicatures must possess has been called into question. The aim of this article is to show that the cases on which Weiner builds his argument—the Train Case and the Sex Pistols Case— do not really suffice to endanger Grice’s Cancellability Hypothesis. What (...)
  36. On Necessary Conditions for Verbal Irony Comprehesion.Herbert L. Colston - 2000 - Pragmatics and Cognition 8 (2):277-324.
    The conditions for verbal irony comprehension implicitly or directly claimed as necessary by all of the recent philosophic, linguistic and psycholinguistic theories of verbal irony (Clark and Gerrig 1984; Kreuz and Glucksberg 1989; Kumon-Nakamura, Glucksberg and Brown 1995; Sperber and Wilson 1981, 1986) were experimentally tested. Allusion to a violation of expectations, predictions, desires, preferences, social norms, etc., was confirmed as a necessary condition, but pragmatic insincerity was not. Pragmatically sincere comments can be comprehended ironically. A revised set of conditions (...)
  37. Iffication, Preiffication, Qualiffication, Reiffication, and Deiffication.John Corcoran - 2008 - Bulletin of Symbolic Logic 14 (4):435-6.
    Iffication, Preiffication, Qualiffication, Reiffication, and Deiffication. -/- Roughly, iffication is the speech-act in which—by appending a suitable if-clause—the speaker qualifies a previous statement. The clause following if is called the qualiffication. In many cases, the intention is to retract part of the previous statement—called the preiffication. I can retract part of “I will buy three” by appending “if I have money”. This initial study focuses on logical relations among propositional contents of speech-acts—not their full conversational implicatures, which will be treated (...)
  38. Unrestricted Exportation: No Toying with Pragmatic English as English Itself.Adam Cuevas - manuscript
  39. Entailments Are Cancellable.Alex Davies - 2017 - Ratio 30 (3):288-304.
    Several philosophers have recently claimed that if a proposition is cancellable from an uttered sentence then that proposition is not entailed by that uttered sentence. The claim should be a familiar one. It has become a standard device in the philosopher's tool-kit. I argue that this claim is false. There is a kind of entailment—which I call “modal entailment”—that is context-sensitive and, because of this, cancellable. So cancellability does not show that a proposition is not entailed by an uttered sentence. (...)
  40. Implicature: Intention, Convention, and Principle in the Failure of Gricean Theory.Wayne A. Davis - 1998 - Cambridge University Press.
    H. P. Grice virtually discovered the phenomenon of implicature (to denote the implications of an utterance that are not strictly implied by its content). Gricean theory claims that conversational implicatures can be explained and predicted using general psycho-social principles. This theory has established itself as one of the orthodoxes in the philosophy of language. Wayne Davis argues controversially that Gricean theory does not work. He shows that any principle-based theory understates both the intentionality of what a speaker implicates and the (...)
  41. Differential Pragmatic Abilities and Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Case of Pragmatic Determinants of Literal Content.Jessica de Villiers & Robert J. Stainton - unknown
    It has become something of a truism that people with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) have difficulties with pragmatics. Granting this, however, it is important to keep in mind that there are numerous kinds of pragmatic ability. One very important divide lies between those pragmatic competences which pertain to non-literal contents – as in, for instance, metaphor, irony and Gricean conversational implicatures – and those which pertain to the literal contents of speech acts. It is against this backdrop that our question (...)
  42. Modals Without Scales.Amy Rose Deal - 2011 - Language 87 (3):559-585.
    Some natural languages do not lexically distinguish between modals of possibility and modals of necessity. From the perspective of languages like English, modals in such languages appear to do double duty: they are used both where possibility modals are expected and where necessity modals are expected. The Nez Perce modal suffix o’qa offers an example of this behavior. I offer a simple account of the flexibility of the o’qa modal centered on the absence of scalar implicatures. O’qa is a possibility (...)
  43. Gricean Belief Change.James P. Delgrande, Abhaya C. Nayak & Maurice Pagnucco - 2005 - Studia Logica 79 (1):97-113.
    One of the standard principles of rationality guiding traditional accounts of belief change is the principle of minimal change: a reasoner's belief corpus should be modified in a minimal fashion when assimilating new information. This rationality principle has stood belief change in good stead. However, it does not deal properly with all belief change scenarios. We introduce a novel account of belief change motivated by one of Grice's maxims of conversational implicature: the reasoner's belief corpus is modified in a minimal (...)
  44. Knowledge, Intuition and Implicature.Alexander Dinges - 2018 - Synthese 195 (6):2821-2843.
    Moderate pragmatic invariantism (MPI) is a proposal to explain why our intuitions about the truth-value of knowledge claims vary with stakes and salient error-possibilities. The basic idea is that this variation is due to a variation not in the propositions expressed (as epistemic contextualists would have it) but in the propositions conversationally implicated. I will argue that MPI is mistaken: I will distinguish two kinds of implicature, namely, additive and substitutional implicatures. I will then argue, first, that the proponent of (...)
  45. Innocent Implicatures.Alexander Dinges - 2015 - Journal of Pragmatics 87:54-63.
    It seems to be a common and intuitively plausible assumption that conversational implicatures arise only when one of the so-called conversational maxims is violated at the level of what is said. The basic idea behind this thesis is that, unless a maxim is violated at the level of what is said, nothing can trigger the search for an implicature. Thus, non-violating implicatures wouldn’t be calculable. This paper defends the view that some conversational implicatures arise even though no conversational maxim is (...)
  46. Value and Implicature.Stephen Finlay - 2005 - Philosophers' Imprint 5:1-20.
    Moral assertions express attitudes, but it is unclear how. This paper examines proposals by David Copp, Stephen Barker, and myself that moral attitudes are expressed as implicature (Grice), and Copp's and Barker's claim that this supports expressivism about moral speech acts. I reject this claim on the ground that implicatures of attitude are more plausibly conversational than conventional. I argue that Copp's and my own relational theory of moral assertions is superior to the indexical theory offered by Barker and Jamie (...)
  47. The Conversational Practicality of Value Judgement.Stephen Finlay - 2004 - The Journal of Ethics 8 (3):205-223.
    Analyses of moral value judgements must meet a practicality requirement: moral speech acts characteristically express pro- or con-attitudes, indicate that speakers are motivated in certain ways, and exert influence on others' motivations. Nondescriptivists including Simon Blackburn and Allan Gibbard claim that no descriptivist analysis can satisfy this requirement. I argue first that while the practicality requirement is defeasible, it indeed demands a connection between value judgement and motivation that resembles a semantic or conceptual rather than merely contingent psychological link. I (...)
  48. Implicature Calculation, Only, and Lumping: Another Look at the Puzzle of Disjunction.Danny Fox - unknown
    Principles of communication allow the listener to infer (upon hearing (1) that unless the speaker believed that (1alt) were false, the speaker would have uttered (1alt).
  49. Saying One Thing and Meaning Another: A Dual Process Approach to Conversational Implicature.K. Frankish & M. Kasmirli - unknown
    [About the book]: This volume is a state-of-the-art survey of the psychology of reasoning, based around, and in tribute to, one of the field's most eminent figures: Jonathan St B.T. Evans.In this collection of cutting edge research, Evans' collaborators and colleagues review a wide range of important and developing areas of inquiry. These include biases in thinking, probabilistic and causal reasoning, people's use of 'if' sentences in arguments, the dual-process theory of thought, and the nature of human rationality. These foundational (...)
  50. Situated Inference Versus Conversational Implicature.Christopher Gauker - 2001 - Noûs 35 (2):163–189.
    As Grice defined it, a speaker conversationally implicates that p only if the speaker expects the hearer to recognize that the speaker thinks that p. This paper argues that in the sorts of cases that Grice took as paradigmatic examples of conversational implicature there is in fact no need for the hearer to consider what the speaker might thus have in mind. Instead, the hearer might simply make an inference from what the speaker literally says and the situation in which (...)
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