This paper examines the Gricean view that quality maxims take priority over other conversational maxims. It is shown that Gricean conversational implicatures are routinely inferred from utterances that are recognized to be untruthful. It is argued that this observation falsifies Grice’s original claim that hearers assume that speakers are obeying other maxims only if the speaker is assumed to be obeying quality maxims, and furthermore the related claim that hearers assume that speakers are being cooperative only to the extent that they assume they are being truthful.
“Accommodation, Meaning, and Implicature: Interdisciplinary Foundations for Pragmatics.” In: Intentions in Communication, edited by P. Cohen, J. Morgan, & M. Pollack, Cambridge, Mass. and London: mit Press, 325–363.
For discussion, see Carson (2006), Sorensen (2007), Fallis (2009), Stokke (2013). Some writers, e.g., Lackey (2013), object that, in the relevant examples, the speaker is nevertheless trying to hide information from the hearer. Even if such critics are right, this is irrelevant to my argument, since, in the relevant cases, the hearer is still not assuming that the speaker intended the hearer to assume that the speaker is not violating the First Maxim of Quality.