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The Cooperative Principle

When talking, most people expect that the cooperative principle is in play.

“If, for example, at a particular stage I need four screws, I expect you to hand me four, rather than two or six”, as Grice put it. But four is a subset of six so giving six screws is logically complying with the request, you might object. If that’s your reaction, you might wanna read up on the cooperative principle, and try to find some applications and examples of it.

The other person isn’t necessarily speaking strictly logicese (ju’a selme’e la lojban) and hasn’t run their utterance through a legal team and a syntactic disambiguator.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t formal contexts where logicese apply. Law, specs, Magic cards, computer programs… even in our own work and philosophy. Logic is a wonderful thing and a powerful tool. But so is natural, sloppy, normal everyday language, and the cooperative principle is a gateway between those two worlds.