Polish Journal of Philosophy

Volume 10, Issue 1, Spring 2016

Book Symposium

Manuel García-Carpintero
Pages 13-49

Indirect Assertions

Imagination and Convention by Ernie Lepore and Matthew Stone is a sustained attack on a standard piece of contemporary philosophical lore, Grice’s (1975) theory of conversational implicatures, and on indirect meanings in general. Although I agree with quite a lot of what they say, and with some important aspects of their theoretical stance, here I will respond to some of their criticism. I’ll assume a characterization of implicatures as theory-neutral as possible, on which implicatures are a sort of indirectly conveyed meanings, illustrated by some traditional examples. Then I will discuss the claim that one can make an assertion indirectly, through a mechanism essentially like the one envisaged by Grice in his account of implicatures. This is something that not just L&S have argued against, but other writers as well, for more or less related reasons. Since it will be clear that assertions, the way I will characterize them, “convey information in the usual sense” and provide “information in the semantic sense of publicly accessible content that supports inquiry”, I will be thereby arguing for a claim clearly at odds with some of those made by L&S.