Default Logic: Towards a Common Logical Semantics for Presuppositions and Entailments

Journal of Semantics 9 (3):223-250 (1992)
Presuppositions and entailments play an important role in determining the meaning of a natural language utterance. Considered as inferences, presuppositions and entailments can be derived from appropriate logical representations of the uttered sentence, the background real world knowledge, and knowledge concerning conversational principles. Presuppositions are conjectural or defeasible in nature, and entailments are deductive. In this paper we describe the application of Default Logic proof theory (which includes First Order Logic proof theory) to the generation of presuppositions and entailments. Classical logic, which can generate the entailments, is enhanced with default rules which capture the linguistic knowledge required to produce the presuppositions. The similarities and differences between presuppositions and entailments when considered as inferences are discussed. We also show that the Default Logic paradigm, in addition to generating the appropriate presuppositions and entailments, has explanatory power
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