The Place for Conversational Implicature in Doctor-Patient Communication
KeywordsContext, implicature, indirect communication, lying, medical ethics, pragmatics, rationality.
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AbstractThe rationality of conversational implicatures can be assessed both from the point of view of instrumental rationality and from that of argumentative rationality. However, another important element of this assessment should be the speech context in which such implicatures are used. This paper analyses the local nature of the use and the interpretation of conversational implicatures that is often omitted from the Gricean picture in which the speaker generally relies on the capacity of the hearer to work out the intended implicature. I want to propose the idea that there are contexts in which the speaker is not justified in doing so. One such context is related to doctor-patient communication. This kind of verbal interaction is pervaded by strong emotional responses that make the use and interpretation of common indirect communicational strategies a potential communicational and ethical problem.