Kratzer 1998 proposes that certain indefinite determiners (at least in some of their uses) might be variables for (Skolemized) choice functions that receive a value from the utterance context. What does it mean for a choice function variable to receive a value from the context of utterance? How can a context provide such a function? To sharpen intuitions, here is an example describing a custom from my home town Mindelheim. After every funeral, all the mourners gathered around the still (...) open grave say a prayer that starts with the words: “And now let us pray for the person among us who will die next.” Suppose an anthropologist attended one or more funerals in Mindelheim, and reports on what she found out in a lecture using (1), or the more general (2). (shrink)
This note is a reply to ‘On the Lumping Semantics of Counterfactuals’ by Makoto Kanazawa, Stefan Kaufmann and Stanley Peters. It shows first that the first triviality result obtained by Kanazawa, Kaufmann, and Peters is already ruled out by the constraints on admissible premise sets listed in Kratzer (1989). Second, and more importantly, it points out that the results obtained by Kanazawa, Kaufmann, and Peters are obsolete in view of the revised analysis of counterfactuals in Kratzer (1990, 2002).
Both Kratzer 1981 (“Partition and Revision”) and Kratzer 1989 (“Lumps of Thought”) assume that the truth of counterfactuals depends on a parameter. The parameter provides a set of propositions that uniquely characterizes the actual world in Kratzer 1981, and a so-called “set of propositions relevant for the truth of counterfactuals” in Kratzer 1989. Both papers try to find empirical constraints for the relevant sets, but - crucially - without characterizing them uniquely. The vagueness and context-dependency of (...) counterfactuals is assumed to be in part due to the fact that the set of propositions that the truth of counterfactuals depends on is underdetermined. (shrink)
In this paper I offer an account of the meaning of must and can within the framework of possible worlds semantics. The paper consists of two parts: the first argues for a relative concept of modality underlying modal words like must and can in natural language. I give preliminary definitions of the meaning of these words which are formulated in terms of logical consequence and compatibility, respectively. The second part discusses one kind of insufficiency in the meaning definitions given in (...) the first part, which arise from the ex falso quodlibet paradox of logical consequence. In stepwise fashion, I make an attempt to avoid most of the consequences of this paradox for the meaning definitions of must and can. (shrink)
Situation semantics was developed as an alternative to possible worlds semantics. In situation semantics, linguistic expressions are evaluated with respect to partial, rather than complete, worlds. There is no consensus about what situations are, just as there is no consensus about what possible worlds or events are. According to some, situations are structured entities consisting of relations and individuals standing in those relations. According to others, situations are particulars. In spite of unresolved foundational issues, the partiality provided by situation semantics (...) has led to some genuinely new approaches to a variety of phenomena in natural language semantics. In the way of illustration, this article includes relatively detailed overviews of a few selected areas where situation semantics has been successful: implicit quantifier domain restrictions, donkey pronouns, and exhaustive interpretations. It moreover addresses the question of how Davidsonian event semantics can be embedded in a semantics based on situations. Other areas where a situation semantics perspective has led to progress include attitude ascriptions, questions, tense, aspect, nominalizations, implicit arguments, point of view, counterfactual conditionals, and discourse relations. (shrink)
What are facts, situations, or events? When Situation Semantics was born in the eighties, I objected because I could not swallow the idea that situations might be chunks of information. For me, they had to be particulars like sticks or bricks. I could not imagine otherwise. The first manuscript of “An Investigation of the Lumps of Thought” that I submitted to Linguistics and Philosophy had a footnote where I distanced myself from all those who took possible situations to be units (...) of information. In that context and at that time, this meant Jon Barwise and John Perry. (shrink)
The adjectival passive construction that is traditionally called ‘Zustandspassiv’ (‘state passive’) in German seems to have the same syntactic and semantic properties as its English cousin, except that it is easier to identify. German state or adjectival passives select the auxiliary sein (‘be’), and are therefore clearly distinguished from verbal or ‘Vorgangs’- passives (‘process passives’), which use the auxiliary werden (‘get’, ‘become’). In spite of their appearance, German state passives do not form a homogenious class, however. There are two important (...) subclasses that behave differently with respect to the adverbial immer noch (‘still’), for example2. (shrink)
They are expressives, too. There is a phonology. There is a syntax. There is a compositional semantics. There are interesting interactions to investigate. German, Greek, and Papago are known examples of discourse particle languages. Intonation has been said to have similar uses in other languages.
The last section made it clear that an analysis which at first seems to fail is viable after all. It is viable if we let it depend on a partition function to be provided by the context of conversation. This analysis leaves certain traits of the partition function open. I have tried to show that this should be so. Specifying these traits as Pollock does leads to wrong predictions. And leaving them open endows counterfactuals with just the right amount of (...) variability and vagueness. (shrink)
I will assume (without explicitly argue for it here) that the verb’s external argument is not an argument of the verb root itself, but is introduced by a separate head in a neo-Davidsonian way. The content argument can be saturated by DPs denoting the kinds of things that can be believed or reported.
Resultatives raise important questions for the syntax-semantics interface, and this is why they have occupied a prominent place in recent linguistic theorizing. What is it that makes this construction so interesting? Resultatives are submitted to a cluster of not obviously related constraints, and this fact calls out for explanation. There are tough constraints for the verb, for example.
We present diverse evidence for the claim of Pullum and Rawlins (2007) that expressives behave differently from descriptives in constructions that enforce a particular kind of semantic identity between elements. Our data are drawn from a wide variety of languages and construction types, and they point uniformly to a basic linguistic distinction between descriptive content and expressive content (Kaplan 1999; Potts 2007).
In this article we will explore the consequences of adopting recent proposals by Chomsky, according to which the syntactic derivation proceeds in terms of phases. The notion of phase – through the associated notion of spellout – allows for an insightful theory of the fact that syntactic constituents receive default phrase stress not across the board, but as a function of yet-to-be-explicated conditions on their syntactic context. We will see that the phonological evi- dence requires us to modify somewhat the (...) theory of which functional categories actually deﬁne a phase. Patterns of default, syntax-determined, phrase stress are argued to result from a prosodic spellout requiring the highest phrase in the spellout domain to correspond to a major prosodic phrase in phonological representation, and carry major phrase stress. (shrink)
This paper pursues some of the consequences of the idea that there are (at least) two sources for distributive/cumulative interpretations in English. One source is lexical pluralization: All predicative stems are born as plurals, as Manfred Krifka and Fred Landman have argued. Lexical pluralization should be available in any language and should not depend on the particular make-up of its DPs. I suggest that the other source of cumulative/distributive interpretations in English is directly provided by plural DPs. DPs with plural (...) agreement features can ‘release’ those features to pluralize adjacent verbal projections. If there is a lexical source for distributive/cumulative interpretations, there should be instances of such interpretations with singular DPs. But there should also be cases of distributive/cumulative interpretations that require the presence of DPs with plural agreement morphology. (shrink)
The BPR assumes that we already know how sentences are partitioned into focused and backgrounded material, and this is quite legitimate, given the literature on the topic , von Stechow ). If the BPR was true, no more would have to be said about the meaning of focus. The behavior of whatever inferences are generated by backgrounding could be taken care of by theories dealing with the projection of presuppositions of the familiar kind, the presuppositions of definite descriptions, clefts, or (...) factives, for example. This is a non-trivial and interesting claim. (shrink)
I present two Triviality results for Kratzer's standard “restrictor” analysis of indicative conditionals. I both refine and undermine the common claim that problems of Triviality do not arise for Kratzer conditionals since they are not strictly conditionals at all.
The standard view of clauses embedded under attitude verbs or modal predicates is that they act as terms standing for propositions, a view that faces a range of philosophical and linguistic difficulties. Recently an alternative has been explored according to which embedded clauses act semantically as predicates of content-bearing objects. This paper argues that this approach faces serious problems when it is based on possible worlds-semantics. It outlines a development of the approach in terms of truthmaker theory instead.
This essay makes the case for, in the phrase of AngelikaKratzer, packing the fruits of the study of rational decision-making into our semantics for deontic modals—specifically, for parametrizing the truth-condition of a deontic modal to things like decision problems and decision theories. Then it knocks it down. While the fundamental relation of the semantic theory must relate deontic modals to things like decision problems and theories, this semantic relation cannot be intelligibly understood as representing the conditions under (...) which a deontic modal is true. Rather it represents the conditions under which it is accepted by a semantically competent agent. This in turn motivates a reorientation of the whole of semantic theorizing, away from the truth-conditional paradigm, toward a form of Expressivism. (shrink)
We propose to analyze well-known cases of "imaginative resistance" from the philosophical literature (Gendler, Walton, Weatherson) as involving the inference that particular content should be attributed to either: (i) a character rather than the narrator or, (ii) an unreliable, irrational, opinionated, and/or morally deviant "first person" narrator who was originally perceived to be a typical impersonal, omniscient, "effaced" narrator. We model the latter type of attribution in terms of two independently motivated linguistic mechanisms: accommodation of a discourse referent (Lewis, Stalnaker, (...) Kamp) and 'cautious' updating as a model of non-cooperative information exchange (Eckardt). (shrink)
Standard accounts of semantics for counterfactuals confront the true–true problem: when the antecedent and consequent of a counterfactual are both actually true, the counterfactual is automatically true. This problem presents a challenge to safety-based accounts of knowledge. In this paper, drawing on work by AngelikaKratzer, Alan Penczek, and Duncan Pritchard, we propose a revised understanding of semantics for counterfactuals utilizing machinery from generalized quantifier theory which enables safety theorists to meet the challenge of the true–true problem.
This paper provides an update semantics for counterfactual conditionals. It does so by giving a dynamic twist to the ‘Premise Semantics’ for counterfactuals developed in Veltman (1976) and Kratzer (1981). It also offers an alternative solution to the problems with naive Premise Semantics discussed by AngelikaKratzer in ‘Lumps of Thought’ (Kratzer, 1989). Such an alternative is called for given the triviality results presented in Kanazawa et al. (2005, this issue).
A proof by Allan Gibbard (Ifs: Conditionals, beliefs, decision, chance, time. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1981) seems to demonstrate that if indicative conditionals have truth conditions, they cannot be stronger than material implication. AngelikaKratzer's theory that conditionals do not denote two-place operators purports to escape this result [see Kratzer (Chic Linguist Soc 22(2):1–15, 1986, 2012)]. In this note, I raise some trouble for Kratzer’s proposed method of escape and then show that her semantics avoids this consequence of (...) Gibbard’s proof by denying modus ponens. I also show that the same holds for Anthony Gillies’ semantics (Philos Rev 118(3):325–349, 2009) and argue that this consequence of these theories is not obviously prohibitive—hence, both remain viable theories of indicative conditionals. (shrink)
This article discusses some of the ways in which natural language can express modal information – information which is, to a first approximation, about what could be or must be the case, as opposed to being about what actually is the case. It motivates, explains, and raises problems for AngelikaKratzer's influential theory of modal auxiliaries, and introduces a new approach to one important debate about the relationships between modality, evidentiality, context change, and imperative force.
In his original semantics for counterfactuals, David Lewis presupposed that the ordering of worlds relevant to the evaluation of a counterfactual admitted no incomparability between worlds. He later came to abandon this assumption. But the approach to incomparability he endorsed makes counterintuitive predictions about a class of examples circumscribed in this paper. The same underlying problem is present in the theories of modals and conditionals developed by Bas van Fraassen, Frank Veltman, and AngelikaKratzer. I show how to (...) reformulate all these theories in terms of lower bounds on partial preorders, conceived of as maximal antichains, and I show that treating lower bounds as cutsets does strictly better at capturing our intuitions about the semantics of modals, counterfactuals, and deontic conditionals. (shrink)
Philippe Schlenker gives a method of deriving local contexts from an expression’s classical semantics. In this paper I show that this method, when applied to the traditional variably strict semantics for subjunctive conditionals of Robert Stalnaker, David Lewis, and AngelikaKratzer, delivers an empirically incorrect prediction. The prediction is that the antecedent of a conditional should have the whole domain of possible worlds as its local context and therefore should be allowed to have only necessary presuppositions. In the (...) later part of the paper, I suggest the outlines of a solution to the problem. The solution involves adding a shifting contextual restriction on the domain of possible worlds. (shrink)
This paper is about the semantic analysis of referentially opaque verbs like seek and owe that give rise to nonspecific readings. It is argued that Montague's categorization (based on earlier work by Quine) of opaque verbs as properties of quantifiers runs into two serious difficulties: the first problem is that it does not work with opaque verbs like resemble that resist any lexical decomposition of the seek ap try to find kind; the second one is that it wrongly predicts de (...) dicto (i.e. narrow scope) readings due to quantified noun phrases in the object positions of such verbs. It is shown that both difficulties can be overcome by an analysis of opaque verbs as operating on properties. This is a strongly modified version of a paper entitled lsquoDo We Bear Attitudes towards Quantifiers?rsquo that I have presented at conferences in Gosen (Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft), Ithaca (SALT I), and Konstanz (Lexikon). I owe a special debt to Hans Kamp and Arnim von Stechow for shaping my views on the subject of this paper during the past ten years or so. Comments from and discussions with the following friends and colleagues have also led to considerable improvements: Heinrich Beck, Steve Berman, David Dowty, Veerle van Geenhoven, Fritz Hamm, Irene Heim, Wolfgang Klein, AngelikaKratzer, Michael Morreau, Barbara Partee, Mats Rooth, Roger Schwarzschild, Wolfgang Sternefeld, Emil Weydert, Henk Zeevat, and three referees. (shrink)
This paper combines the ancient idea that causes necessitate their effects with AngelikaKratzer’s semantics of modality. On the resulting view, causal claims quantify over restricted domains of possible worlds determined by two contextually determined parameters. I argue that this view can explain a number of otherwise puzzling features of the way we use and evaluate causal language, including the difference between causing an effect and being a cause of it, the sensitivity of causal judgements to normative facts, (...) and the semantics of causal disagreements. (shrink)
This is a critical notice of Nate Charlow and Matthew Chrisman's (eds.) edited collection of articles entitled Deontic Modality. It begins from a brief overview of AngelikaKratzer's standard ordering semantic model for understanding deontic modals such as 'ought', 'must', and 'may' and some of the problems of this model. The focus is then on how many of the articles of this collection reach to these problems by either developing the standard model further or by formulating alternatives to (...) it. This critical notice then focuses on the principles that should govern our theory-choice in formal semantics once all these formal models are developed to deal with many of the problem cases discussed in this excellent collection. (shrink)
The deontic modal must has two surprising properties: an assertion of must p does not permit a denial of p, and must does not take past tense complements. I first consider an explanation of these phenomena that stays within AngelikaKratzer’s semantic framework for modals, and then offer some reasons for rejecting that explanation. I then propose an alternative account, according to which simple must sentences have the force of an imperative.
The consequence argument is a powerful incompatibilist argument for the conclusion that, if determinism is true, what one does is what one must do. A major point of controversy between classical compatibilists and incompatibilists has been over the use of ‘can’ in the consequence argument. Classical compatibilists, holding that abilities to act are dispositions, have argued that ‘can’ should be analyzed as a conditional. But such an analysis of ‘can’ puts compatibilists in a position to grant the premises of the (...) argument while denying the conclusion. Incompatibilists remain unconvinced, and this corner of the debate over free will has reached a dialectical impasse. The present paper has two aims. First, to offer a new dialectical point of entry into this dispute on behalf of incompatibilists. By making use of AngelikaKratzer's influential semantic work on ‘can’ and ‘must’, I argue that incompatibilists are in a position to offer a plausible, positive treatment of ‘can’ that favors their view. Second, even if one does not think incompatibilism is thereby true (for as we shall see there are places to push back), the Kratzer semantics yields a number of important insights concerning the consequence argument that should be of broad interest. (shrink)
We contribute to the empirical debate on whether we understand and predict mental states by using simulation (simulation theory) or by relying on a folk psychological theory (theory theory). To decide between these two fundamental positions, it has been argued that failure to predict other people's choices would be challenging evidence against the simulation view. We test the specific claim that people prefer the rightmost position in choosing among equally valued objects, and whether or not this position bias can be (...) correctly predicted. A series of experiments shows that the bias appears only in a specific spatial arrangement and that it can be correctly predicted given adequate imaginative input. In concert with other recent findings on the correct prediction of choices these findings do actually strengthen, rather than challenge, the simulation account on the prediction of mental states. (shrink)