Part V. back to Grice: Conditionals in English and fopl

In Dingfang Shu & Ken Turner (eds.), Contrasting Meanings in Languages of the East and West. Peter Lang (2009)
In the 1960’s, both Montague (e.g. 1970, 222) and Grice (1975, 24) famously declared that natural languages were not so different from the formal languages of logic as people had thought. Montague sought to comprehend the grammars of both within a single theory, and Grice sought to explain away apparent divergences as due to the fact that the former, but not the latter, were used for conversation. But, if we confine our concept of logic to first order predicate logic (or FOPL) with identity (that is, omitting everything which is not required for the pursuit of mathematical truth), then there are of course many other aspects, in addition to its use in conversation, which distinguish natural language from logic. Conventional implicature, information structure (including presupposition), tense and time reference, and the expression of causation and inference are several of these, which combine as well with syntactic complexities which are unnecessary in first order predicate logic. In this paper I will argue that such distinguishing aspects should be more fully exploited to explain the differences between the material conditional of logic and the indicative conditional of one natural language (English).
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