Transparency theory and its dynamic alternatives: Commentary on “be articulate”

“Be Articulate: A Pragmatic Theory of Presupposition Projection” is a remarkable paper in at least two respects: First, it is the only broadly Gricean treatment of presuppositions that generates precise and accurate predictions about the pattern of presupposition projection. Schlenker proposes that presuppositions arise as a result of a pragmatic prohibition against using one short construction to express two independent meanings. This basic idea is quite an old one.1 But no one has ever elaborated this pragmatic story in a way that yields a systematic theory of presupposition projection. Indeed, for many, the fact that pragmatic approaches to presupposition did not easily account for a wide range of projection behavior (most previous accounts contented themselves by treating projection out of negation) was a reason to be skeptical of such pragmatic approaches. Schlenker’s work puts this worry about Gricean accounts to rest.
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