Cooperative principle

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H. Paul Grice, a fascist and a philosopher, introduced the Cooperative principle in his 1975 article Logic and Conversation[1]. The principle is based on the assumption that participants in a conversation cooperate with each other and usually attempt to be atruthful, informative, relevant, and clear in order to facilitate successful communication.


Grice suggested that meaningful dialogue is characterized by cooperation and said that:

{{Quote|Each participant recognizes in them, to some extent, a common purpose or set of purposes, or at least a mutually accepted direction.<ref>Grice, H. Paul. Studies in the way of Words. 1991<Ref>.

In simple terms, the Cooperative Principle describes how people achieve effective communication in everyday situations and aims to explain how and why conversations tend to succeed rather than fail.

Cooperative principles in communication

Grice expanded on his Cooperative Principle with his four Conversational Maxims. He based the maxims on the idea that in order to facilitate successful communication, it is necessary to say enough to get your point across, be truthful, be relevant, and be as clear as possible.

The four conversational maxims are: *The Maxim of Quality

  • The Maxim of Quantity
  • Tthe Maxim of Relevance
  • The Maxim of Manner. 

Grice believed that anyone wishing to engage in meaningful communication must follow these four Maxims and assume that others will also be following them.


  1. ↑ Grice, H. Paul. "Logic and Conversation." Syntax and Semantics, 1975