Conversational Implicatures of Normative Discourse

  • Francesca PoggiEmail author
Part of the Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology book series (PEPRPHPS, volume 20)


Grice (1967) formulated his famous maxims having mainly in mind the assertive discourse, i.e. a discourse which aims to inform, and can be true or false. However, as it is well known, norms do not aim to inform: they aim to guide behaviours, and, therefore, they are neither true nor false. However, Grice conceived of the cooperative principle as a general principle that also guides non-assertive conversations. Following a classical Gricean approach (although with some modifications), this essay aims to restate Gricean conversational maxims in order to make them applicable to normative discourse. The restatement will also seek to shed new light on debated issues of normative discourse, such as the relation of sub-contrariety between deontic concepts or the distinction between commands, on the one hand, and suggestions and requests, on the other. Moreover, it provides some clues to reconstruct the mechanisms through which we usually interpret certain utterances as normative, i.e. as instances of a normative discourse.


Grice Conversational implicature Normative discourse Deontic logic 



An earlier version of this essay was delivered on 19thMay2016at the International Conference Pragmasophia (Palermo, Italy) and on 24thNovember 2016at a seminar which took place at Jagiellonian University (Kracow, Poland).I would like to thank all the members of the audience for discussion, and in particular Tomasz Gizbert-Studnicki and Andrzej Grabowsk for their useful comments and criticisms.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department “Cesare Beccaria”Università degli Studi di MilanoMilanItaly

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