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The four maxims are:
- Maxim of Quality: Do not say what you believe is false.
- Why this maxim is a good default assumption should be obvious.
- Maxim of Quantity: Make your contribution as informative as possible.
- E.g. don't say a goat has two legs when it has four legs, even if logically four legs implies [at least] two legs.
- Maxim of Relevance: Be relevant.
- E.g. if you say something which doesn't appear immediately relevant to what you've been saying, I'm going to assume it is relevant on some deeper level. That's what makes a lot of allusive talk work.
- Maxim of Manner: Be orderly.
- E.g. if you say A, and then say B, I can assume B happened after A.
These assumptions are frequently encoded into Lojban as interpretive conventions; e.g. story time, goat's legs quantification, etc. Wilson & Sperber, in their Relevance theory, reduce these maxims to just one: "Be relevant".
The unoffical fifth maxim: