The Semantics and Pragmatics of Presupposition

Journal of Semantics 15 (3):239-300 (1998)
Abstract
In this paper, we offer a novel analysis of presuppositions, paying particular attention to the interaction between the knowledge resources that are required to The analysis has two main features. First, we capture an analogy between presuppositions, anaphora and scope ambiguity (cf. van der Sandt 1992), by utilizing semantic under-specification (c£ Reyle 1993). Second, resolving this underspecification requires reasoning about how the presupposition is rhetorically connected to the discourse context. This has several consequences. First, since pragmatic information plays a role in computing the rhetorical relation, it also constrains the interpretation of presuppositions. Our account therefore provides a formal framework for analysing problematic data, which require pragmatic reasoning. Second, binding presuppositions to the context via rhetorical links replaces accommodating them, in the sense of adding them to the context (cf. Lewis 1979). The treatment of presupposition is thus generalized and integrated into the discourse update procedure. We formalize this approach in SDRT (Asher 1993; Lascarides & Asher 1993), and demonstrate that it provides a rich framework for interpreting presuppositions, where semantic and pragmatic constraints are integrated
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