Critical Voices Against the Cooperative Principle

Weichu KE, Zhanfang LI


The Cooperative Principle (CP), Grice’s influential contribution to pragmatics, advances strongly in linguistics, philosophy, psychology and sociology. However, doubts and criticisms on it have been unceasing. They are mainly concerned with the following four aspects: The term “cooperation” itself is ambiguous; the question of whether the CP belongs to a range of principles or rules has not been decided; The four maxims cannot be applied extensively; The descriptions of the violations are not too persuasive. These critical views are the results of some scholars’ misunderstandings. First, they ignore to give self-definition of “cooperation” in the CP; Second, they mix the concepts and relationship between the cooperative principle and conversational maxims; Thirdly, they indiscreetly impose the cooperative essence of the CP on the maxims so that maxims are imprisoned.


The Cooperative Principle (CP); Doubt; Criticism; Misunderstanding

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