In this paper, I will first criticize the role that the most popular version of the Principle of Charity accords to rationality, in relation to linguistic interpretation. I will then propose an alternative view based on Paul Grice’s Cooperative Principle and his argumentative conception of rationality. According to the Principle of Charity, assuming that people are rational is a necessary condition of the possibility of interpreting their linguistic behaviour successfully. In this sense, we cannot understand other people’s utterances without also ascribing a certain degree of rationality to them. Although this presumption seems to be strongly entrenched in our ordinary linguistic practices, I will argue that the Principle of Charity should be rejected because it cannot determine how much rationality has to be imputed to our interlocutors. A more appropriate way of making sense of other people’s utterances is found in Paul Grice’s Cooperative Principle, which specifies what we should reasonably expect from our interlocutors, without imposing any specific rational principle to their linguistic behaviour. On this view, other people’s rationality does not need to be conceived in terms of conformity to certain norms, as in the case of the Principle of Charity, but rather emerges from one’s linguistic practices as a concern for the justification of one’s own linguistic moves.

Rationality in Linguistic Interpretation: from Charity to Cooperativeness

LABINAZ, PAOLO
2016

Abstract

In this paper, I will first criticize the role that the most popular version of the Principle of Charity accords to rationality, in relation to linguistic interpretation. I will then propose an alternative view based on Paul Grice’s Cooperative Principle and his argumentative conception of rationality. According to the Principle of Charity, assuming that people are rational is a necessary condition of the possibility of interpreting their linguistic behaviour successfully. In this sense, we cannot understand other people’s utterances without also ascribing a certain degree of rationality to them. Although this presumption seems to be strongly entrenched in our ordinary linguistic practices, I will argue that the Principle of Charity should be rejected because it cannot determine how much rationality has to be imputed to our interlocutors. A more appropriate way of making sense of other people’s utterances is found in Paul Grice’s Cooperative Principle, which specifies what we should reasonably expect from our interlocutors, without imposing any specific rational principle to their linguistic behaviour. On this view, other people’s rationality does not need to be conceived in terms of conformity to certain norms, as in the case of the Principle of Charity, but rather emerges from one’s linguistic practices as a concern for the justification of one’s own linguistic moves.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11368/2899533
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