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Summary

Presupposition has been a widely discussed topic in the philosophical and linguistic tradition since the beginning: Frege, in Über Sinn und Bedeutung (1892), claims that the use of a singular term presupposes the existence of the individual denoted. The Fregean example was that to give a truth value to the sentence

(1) Kepler died in misery

we need to take for granted the truth of the proposition

(1a) Kepler existed

Therefore, (1a) is a semantic presupposition of (1). Since the Fregean stance, analytic scholars have given the following definition: a sentence p semantically presupposes a sentence q if we need the truth of q in order to treat p as endowed with sense, that is, as either true or false. If the presupposition is lacking, then the sentence p lacks a truth value (i.e. is neither true nor false). Russell, in On Denoting (1905), launched a strong criticism of the Fregean theory of semantic presupposition, contrasting the Fregean view with a new “theory of definite descriptions”. From this perspective, every sentence is either truth or false, and the role of a proper name (or a description to which every proper name can be reduced, according to Russell) is to express an existence claim. This solution allows to give a truth value to sentences with non-denoting terms, like “The present king of France is bald”, which should be translated as “There is an individual who is at present King of France and he is unique and he is bald”; formally:

(2) ∃x[F(x)˄∀y[F(y)→y=x]˄C(x)]

In this case, given that there is no individual who is presently the King of France, the sentence is false.

It was only in the 50s that ordinary language philosophy developed a new concept of presupposition. Starting with Strawson (1950) and with Austin (1962), the concept of presupposition was no longer linked to necessary conditions for the evaluation of the truth of a sentence, but was a necessary condition for the felicity or appropriateness of a speech act. With Stalnaker (1973) analytic philosophy abandoned the notion of semantic presupposition to treat presupposition as a propositional attitude. The theory changed its focus from the semantic level of sentences to the pragmatic level of utterances, therefore including the ‘cognitive context’ of the speakers background of beliefs, assumptions, presumptions, etc. In Stalnaker’s view the common ground of a conversation at a particular time is the set of propositions that participants in that conversation at that time mutually believe to be accepted as true and that, for that reason, they take for granted. Hence, in this perspective, a pragmatic presupposition is a prerequisite for appropriateness of assertions: an assertion of a sentence p is appropriate only if the common ground includes the presupposition q required by p, namely, q is believed as accepted as true by the interlocutors (Stalnaker, 2002).

In more recent times, several scholars have treated the problem of presuppositions within dynamic semantic theories, i.e. formal representations of language structure aimed at modelling the growth of information in the course of a discourse, like Update Semantics (Heim 1992) and Discourse Representation Theory (Kamp & Reyle, 1993). The passage from the level of singular utterances to the wider level of the discourse structure has shown us that the distinction between semantic and pragmatic presuppositions, that once seemed like a neat division, is not so tidy after all. On the one hand, presuppositions are considered an essential prerequisite for understanding the content expressed by an utterance and for the coherence of the semantic relations between the sentences that constitute a discourse. In this respect, therefore, they play a purely semantic role. On the other hand, the process of presupposition accommodation is highly sensitive to contextual factors like, for example, speakers’ willingness to maintain a cooperative attitude with their interlocutors. In this view, therefore, they can be considered a pragmatic phenomenon, related to contextual aspects.

When dealing with presuppositions, many theoretical problems and contrasts have to be tackled. Specifically, there are three main open questions in the current linguistic and philosophical debate:

(i) a first problem concerns what ‘presupposing’ means, i.e. what it is for a proposition to be taken for granted. The question at stake is to determine what are the mental states speakers have towards presuppositions; in particular, when new information is conveyed as presupposed and is accommodated within the common ground by the interlocutors (Stalnaker 2002, Gauker 2003).

(ii) A second major issue regards the role of presupposition triggers (i.e. all the lexical items and syntactic constructions that activate presuppositions). Besides a traditional taxonomy of presupposition triggers, there are now new attempts to better explain the mechanisms underlying the understanding of different categories of triggers and to provide a new classification (Abusch 2002, 2010).

(iii) Finally, a third central topic is the so called ‘presupposition projection problem’, namely, the problem of how complex sentences inherit the presuppositions of their components depending on the logical operator in use (Heim 1992, Geurts 1999). 

Key works Common ground; presupposition triggers; presupposition projection; accommodation; global context; local context; presupposition failure.
Introductions

Stalnaker R (1973) Presuppositions. The Journal of Philosophical Logic 2:447-457

Stalnaker R (2002) Common Ground. Linguistics and Philosophy 25(5-6):701-721

Heim I (1992) Presupposition projection and the semantics of attitude verbs. Journal of Semantics 9(3):183-221

Abusch, D., (2010). “Presupposition triggering from alternatives”, Journal of Semantics,

27(1), 1-44.

Geurts, B., (1999). Presuppostions and Pronouns, Elsevier, Amsterdam.

Related categories

313 found
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  1. Comments on Philippe Schlenker's Be Articulate! A Pragmatic Theory of Presupposition Projection.Berit Brogaard - manuscript
    “When a speaker says something of the form A and B, he may take it for granted that A (or at least that his audience recognizes that he accepts that A) after he has said it. The proposition that A will be added to the background of common assumptions before the speaker asserts that B. Now suppose that B expresses a proposition that would, for some reason, be inappropriate to assert except in a context where A, or something entailed by (...)
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  2. Does Pornography Presuppose Rape Myths?Richard Kimberly Heck - manuscript
    Rae Langton and Caroline West have argued that pornography silences women by presupposing misogynistic attitudes, such as that women enjoy being raped. More precisely, they claim that a somewhat infamous pictorial, “Dirty Pool”, makes such presuppositions. I argue for four claims. (i) Langton and West's account of how pornography silences women is empirically dubious. (ii) There is no evidence that very much pornography makes the sorts of presuppositions they require. (iii) Even "Dirty Pool", for all its other problems, does not (...)
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  3. Presupposition.Philippe Schlenker - manuscript
    (2-week course at the New York-St. Petersburg Institute of Cognitive and Cultural Studies, July 2007).
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  4. Presupposition Without Common Ground.Mandy Simons - manuscript
    In this paper, I review a number of arguments in favor of treating many of the central cases of presupposition as the result of conversational inference, rather than as lexically specified properties of particular expressions. I then argue that, despite the standard assumption to the contrary, the view of presupposition as constraints on the common ground is not consistent with the provision of a conversational account of particular presuppositional constraints. The argument revolves crucially around the workings of accommodation. I then (...)
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  5. On Presupposition Accommodation.Zoltan Szabo - manuscript
    These are the comments I gave at Ohio State in October 2006 on Kai von Fintel’s paper on presupposition accommodation.
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  6. Modality, Presupposition and Discourse.Patrícia Amaral & Fabio Del Prete - forthcoming - In Ruth Lopes, Juanito Ornelas de Avelar & Sonia Cyrino (eds.), Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
    This paper provides a semantic analysis of the particles afinal (European Portuguese) and alla fine (Italian) in terms of the notion of truth unpersistence, which can be situated at the intersection of epistemic modality and discourse structure. In the analysis proposed, the particles are propositional operators and require that the truth of a proposition p* fail to persist through a temporal succession of epistemic states, this proposition being incompatible with the prejacent, and that the interlocutors share knowledge of a previous (...)
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  7. Subclausal Local Contexts.Kyle H. Blumberg & Amir Anvari - forthcoming - Journal of Semantics.
    One of the central topics in semantic theory over the last few decades concerns the nature of local contexts. Recently, theorists have tried to develop general, non-stipulative accounts of local contexts (Schlenker, 2009; Ingason, 2016; Mandelkern & Romoli, 2017a). In this paper, we contribute to this literature by drawing attention to the local contexts of subclausal expressions. More specifically, we focus on the local contexts of quantificational determiners, e.g. `all', `both', etc. Our central tool for probing the local contexts of (...)
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  8. On Stalnaker's "Indicative Conditionals".Fabrizio Cariani - forthcoming - In Louise McNally, Yael Sharvit & Zoltan Szabo (eds.), Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy, Vol 100. Springer.
    This paper is a guide to the main ideas and innovations in Robert Stalnaker's "Indicative Conditionals". The paper is for a volume of essays on twenty-one classics of formal semantics edited by Louise McNally, Yael Sharvit and Zoltàn Gendler Szabò.
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  9. Dissatisfaction Theory.Matthew Mandelkern - forthcoming - Semantics and Linguistic Theory 26:391-416.
    I propose a new theory of semantic presupposition, which I call dissatisfaction theory. I first briefly review a cluster of problems − known collectively as the proviso problem − for most extant theories of presupposition, arguing that the main pragmatic response to them faces a serious challenge. I avoid these problems by adopting two changes in perspective on presupposition. First, I propose a theory of projection according to which presuppositions project unless they are locally entailed. Second, I reject the standard (...)
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  10. Parsing and Presupposition in the Calculation of Local Contexts.Matthew Mandelkern & Jacopo Romoli - forthcoming - Semantics and Pragmatics.
    In this paper, we use antecedent-final conditionals to formulate two problems for parsing-based theories of presupposition projection and triviality of the kind given in Schlenker 2009. We show that, when it comes to antecedent-final conditionals, parsing-based theories predict filtering of presuppositions where there is in fact projection, and triviality judgments for sentences which are in fact felicitous. More concretely, these theories predict that presuppositions triggered in the antecedent of antecedent-final conditionals will be filtered (i.e. will not project) if the negation (...)
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  11. Asymmetry in Presupposition Projection: The Case of Conjunction.Matthew Mandelkern, Jeremy Zehr, Jacopo Romoli & Florian Schwarz - forthcoming - Semantics and Linguistic Theory 27.
    Is the basic mechanism behind presupposition projection fundamentally asymmetric or symmetric? This is a basic question for the theory of presupposition, which also bears on broader issues concerning the source of asymmetries observed in natural language: are these simply rooted in superficial asymmetries of language use— language use unfolds in time, which we experience as fundamentally asymmetric— or can they be, at least in part, directly referenced in linguistic knowledge and representations? In this paper we aim to make progress on (...)
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  12. Pejoratives & Oughts.Teresa Marques - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-17.
    Chris Hom argued that slurs and pejoratives semantically express complex negative prescriptive properties, which are determined in virtue of standing in external causal relations to social ideologies and practices. He called this view Combinatorial Externalism. Additionally, he argued that Combinatorial Externalism entailed that slurs and pejoratives have null extensions. In this paper, I raise an objection that has not been raised in the literature so far. I argue that semantic theories like Hom’s are forced to choose between two alternatives: either (...)
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  13. Fregean Side-Thoughts.Thorsten Sander - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
    This paper offers a detailed reconstruction of Frege’s theory of side-thoughts (Nebengedanken) and its relation to other parts of his pragmatics, most notably to the notion of colouring (Färbung), to the notion of presupposition (Voraussetzung), and to his implicit notion of multi-propositionality. I also highlight some important differences between the subsemantic categories employed by Frege and those used in contemporary pragmatics.
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  14. What We Do and Presuppose When We Demonstrate.Eduarda Calado Barbosa & Felipe Nogueira De Carvalho - 2021 - Veritas – Revista de Filosofia da Pucrs 65 (3):e38525.
    In this paper, we defend that demonstratives are expressions of joint attention. Though this idea is not exactly new in the philosophical or linguistic literature, we argue here that their proponents have not yet shown how to incorporate these observations into more traditional theories of demonstratives. Our purpose is then to attempt to fill this gap. We argue that coordinated attentional activities are better integrated into a full account of demonstratives as meta-pragmatic information. Our claim is twofold. First, we claim (...)
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  15. Oddness, Modularity, and Exhaustification.Guillermo Del Pinal - 2021 - Natural Language Semantics 29 (1):115-158.
    According to the `grammatical account', scalar implicatures are triggered by a covert exhaustification operator present in logical form. This account covers considerable empirical ground, but there is a peculiar pattern that resists treatment given its usual implementation. The pattern centers on odd assertions like #"Most lions are mammals" and #"Some Italians come from a beautiful country", which seem to trigger implicatures in contexts where the enriched readings conflict with information in the common ground. Magri (2009, 2011) argues that, to account (...)
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  16. Presupposing, Believing, Having Faith.Carlos Miguel Gómez Rincón - 2021 - Sophia 60 (1):103-121.
    This paper traces the borders between presupposing, believing, and having faith. These three attitudes are often equated and confused in the contemporary image of the historically and culturally situated character of rationality. This confusion is problematic because, on the one hand, it prevents us from fully appreciating the way in which this image of rationality points towards a dissolving of the opposition between faith and reason; on the other hand, it leads to forms of fideism. After bringing this differentiation into (...)
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  17. On the Nature of Presupposition: A Normative Speech Act Account.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (2):269-293.
    In this paper I provide a new account of linguistic presuppositions, on which they are ancillary speech acts defined by constitutive norms. After providing an initial intuitive characterization of the phenomenon, I present a normative speech act account of presupposition in parallel with Williamson’s analogous account of assertion. I explain how it deals well with the problem of informative presuppositions, and how it relates to accounts for the Triggering and Projection Problems for presuppositions. I conclude with a brief discussion of (...)
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  18. Presupposition and Consent.Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa - 2020 - Feminist Philosophy Quarterly 6 (4):Article 4.
    I argue that “consent” language presupposes that the contemplated action is or would be at someone else’s behest. When one does something for another reason—for example, when one elects independently to do something, or when one accepts an invitation to do something—it is linguistically inappropriate to describe the actor as “consenting” to it; but it is also inappropriate to describe them as “not consenting” to it. A consequence of this idea is that “consent” is poorly suited to play its canonical (...)
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  19. We’ve discovered that projection across conjunction is asymmetric.Matthew Mandelkern, Jérémy Zehr, Jacopo Romoli & Florian Schwarz - 2020 - Linguistics and Philosophy 43 (5):473-514.
    Is the mechanism behind presupposition projection and filtering fundamentally asymmetric or symmetric? This is a foundational question for the theory of presupposition which has been at the centre of attention in recent literature. It also bears on broader issues concerning the source of asymmetries observed in natural language: are these simply rooted in superficial asymmetries of language use ; or are they, at least in part, directly encoded in linguistic knowledge and representations? In this paper we aim to make progress (...)
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  20. Really Expressive Presuppositions and How to Block Them.Teresa Marques & Manuel García-Carpintero - 2020 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 97 (1):138-158.
    Kaplan (1999) argued that a different dimension of expressive meaning (“use-conditional”, as opposed to truth-conditional) is required to characterize the meaning of pejoratives, including slurs and racial epithets. Elaborating on this, writers have argued that the expressive meaning of pejoratives and slurs is either a conventional implicature (Potts 2007) or a presupposition (Macià 2002 and 2014, Schlenker 2007, Cepollaro and Stojanovic 2016). We argue that an expressive presuppositional theory accounts well for the data, but that expressive presuppositions are not just (...)
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  21. Presuppositions, Attitudes, and Why They Matter.Caleb Perl - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (2):363-381.
    This paper introduces and defends a high-level generalization about the way that presupposition triggers interact with attitude verbs. This generalization tells us a great deal about what an adequa...
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  22. "Ought" and Error.Christine Tiefensee - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (2):96-114.
    The moral error theory generally does not receive good press in metaethics. This paper adds to the bad news. In contrast to other critics, though, I do not attack error theorists’ characteristic thesis that no moral assertion is ever true. Instead, I develop a new counter-argument which questions error theorists’ ability to defend their claim that moral utterances are meaningful assertions. More precisely: Moral error theorists lack a convincing account of the meaning of deontic moral assertions, or so I will (...)
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  23. Loose Talk, Scale Presuppositions and QUD.Daniel Hoek - 2019 - In Julian J. Schlöder, Dean McHugh & Floris Roelofsen (eds.), Proceedings of the 22nd Amsterdam Colloquium. pp. 171-180.
    I present a new pragmatic theory of loose talk, focussing on the loose use of numbers and measurement expressions. The account explains loose readings as arising from a pragmatic mechanism aimed at restoring relevance to the question under discussion (QUD), appealing to Krifka's notion of a measurement scale. The core motivating observation is that the loose reading of a claim need not be weaker than its literal content, as almost all pragmatic treatments of loose talk have assumed (e.g. Lasersohn). The (...)
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  24. Independence Day?Matthew Mandelkern & Daniel Rothschild - 2019 - Journal of Semantics 36 (2):193-210.
    Two recent and influential papers, van Rooij 2007 and Lassiter 2012, propose solutions to the proviso problem that make central use of related notions of independence—qualitative in the first case, probabilistic in the second. We argue here that, if these solutions are to work, they must incorporate an implicit assumption about presupposition accommodation, namely that accommodation does not interfere with existing qualitative or probabilistic independencies. We show, however, that this assumption is implausible, as updating beliefs with conditional information does not (...)
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  25. Frege’s Puzzle is About Identity After All.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (3):628-643.
    Many philosophers have argued or taken for granted that Frege's puzzle has little or nothing to do with identity statements. I show that this is wrong, arguing that the puzzle can only be motivated relative to a thinker's beliefs about the identity or distinctness of the relevant object. The result is important, as it suggests that the puzzle can be solved, not by a semantic theory of names or referring expressions as such, but simply by a theory of identity statements. (...)
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  26. Lying with Presuppositions.Emanuel Viebahn - 2019 - Noûs 54 (3):731-751.
    It is widely held that all lies are assertions: the traditional definition of lying entails that, in order to lie, speakers have to assert something they believe to be false. It is also widely held that assertion contrasts with presupposition and, in particular, that one cannot assert something by presupposing it. Together, these views imply that speakers cannot lie with presuppositions—a view that Andreas Stokke has recently explicitly defended. The aim of this paper is to argue that speakers can lie (...)
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  27. Faultless Disagreement.Julia Zakkou - 2019 - Frankfurt am Main, Deutschland: Klostermann.
    People disagree frequently, about both objective and subjective matters. But while at least one party must be wrong in a disagreement about objective matters, it seems that both parties can be right when it comes to subjective ones: it seems that there can be faultless disagreements. But how is this possible? How can people disagree with one another if they are both right? And why should they? In recent years, a number of philosophers and linguists have argued that we must (...)
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  28. Conditional Heresies.Fabrizio Cariani & Simon Goldstein - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (2):251-282.
  29. A Revised, Gradability-Based Semantics for Even.Yael Greenberg - 2018 - Natural Language Semantics 26 (1):51-83.
    This paper concentrates on giving precise content to the general wisdom on the scalar presupposition of even, according to which the prejacent of even, p, is stronger than its relevant focus alternatives, q. To that end I first examine both familiar challenges for the popular ‘comparative likelihood’ view of the ‘stronger than’ relation, as well as novel challenges, having to do with the context dependency of even and with its sensitivity to standards of comparison. To overcome these challenges and to (...)
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  30. Refusing to Endorse. A Must Explanation for Pejoratives.Carlo Penco - 2018 - In Annalisa Coliva, Paolo Leonardi & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Eva Picardi on Language, Analysis and History. London: Palgrave. pp. 219-239.
    In her analysis of pejoratives, Eva Picardi rejects a too sharp separation between descriptive and expressive content. I reconstruct some of her arguments, endorsing Eva’s criticism of Williamson’s analysis of Dummett and developing a suggestion by Manuel Garcia Carpintero on a speech act analysis of pejoratives. Eva’s main concern is accounting for our instinctive refusal to endorse an assertion containing pejoratives because it suggests a picture of reality we do not share. Her stance might be further developed claiming that uses (...)
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  31. Lying and Insincerity.Andreas Stokke - 2018 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Andreas Stokke presents a comprehensive study of lying and insincere language use. He investigates how lying relates to other forms of insincerity and explores the kinds of attitudes that go with insincere uses of language. -/- Part I develops an account of insincerity as a linguistic phenomenon. Stokke provides a detailed theory of the distinction between lying and speaking insincerely, and accounts for the relationship between lying and deceiving. A novel framework of assertion underpins the analysis of various kinds of (...)
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  32. On Denying Presuppositions.Lenny Clapp - 2017 - Synthese 194 (6).
    Strawson :96–118, 1964) argued that definite NPs trigger presuppositions as an aspect of their conventional meanings, and this semantic conception of presupposition triggers is incorporated into the binding theory of presuppositions. The phenomenon of presupposition denials, however, presents a problem for the semantic conception of presupposition triggers, for in such denials the alleged semantic presuppositions seem to be “cancelled” by a negation operator. Geurts :274–307, 1998; Presupposition and pronouns, 1999) attempts to solve this problem by utilizing the binding theory’s allowance (...)
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  33. When Can We Know Our Assumptions?Terence Rajivan Edward - 2017 - Philosophical Pathways 208:1-4.
    The expression “The owl of Minerva flies at dusk” is used to convey that philosophers are only able to identify the assumptions that are made within a period of history, a period of which they are part, when that period is coming to an end and those assumptions will soon no longer be made. In this paper, I support a rival view according to which those involved in a historical period can know their assumptions earlier, given appropriate talent and effort.
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  34. ‘Ought Implies Can’: Not So Pragmatic After All.Alex King - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (3):637-661.
    Those who want to deny the ‘ought implies can’ principle often turn to weakened views to explain ‘ought implies can’ phenomena. The two most common versions of such views are that ‘ought’ presupposes ‘can’, and that ‘ought’ conversationally implicates ‘can’. This paper will reject both views, and in doing so, present a case against any pragmatic view of ‘ought implies can’. Unlike much of the literature, I won't rely on counterexamples, but instead will argue that each of these views fails (...)
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  35. On the Meaning of 'Therefore'.Carlotta Pavese - 2017 - Analysis 77 (1):88-97.
    I argue for an analysis of ‘therefore’ as presupposition trigger against the more standard conventional implicature story originally put forward by Grice (1975). I propose that we model the relevant presupposition as “testing” the context in a way that is similar to how, according to some dynamic treatments of epistemic `must', ‘must’ tests the context. But whereas the presupposition analysis is plausible for ‘therefore’, ‘must’ is not plausibly a presupposition trigger. Moreover, whereas ‘must’ can naturally occur under a supposition, the (...)
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  36. Presumptions, Assumptions, and Presuppositions of Ordinary Arguments.Gilbert Plumer - 2017 - Argumentation 31 (3):469-484.
    Although in some contexts the notions of an ordinary argument’s presumption, assumption, and presupposition appear to merge into the one concept of an implicit premise, there are important differences between these three notions. It is argued that assumption and presupposition, but not presumption, are basic logical notions. A presupposition of an argument is best understood as pertaining to a propositional element (a premise or the conclusion) e of the argument, such that the presupposition is a necessary condition for the truth (...)
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  37. Dretske on Self-Knowledge and Contrastive Focus: How to Understand Dretske’s Theory, and Why It Matters.Michael Roche & William Roche - 2017 - Erkenntnis 82 (5):975-992.
    Dretske’s theory of self-knowledge is interesting but peculiar and can seem implausible. He denies that we can know by introspection that we have thoughts, feelings, and experiences. But he allows that we can know by introspection what we think, feel, and experience. We consider two puzzles. The first puzzle, PUZZLE 1, is interpretive. Is there a way of understanding Dretske’s theory on which the knowledge affirmed by its positive side is different than the knowledge denied by its negative side? The (...)
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  38. II—Conventional Implicature, Presupposition, and Lying.Andreas Stokke - 2017 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 91 (1):127-147.
    Responding to parts of Sorensen, it is argued that the connectives therefore and but do not contribute conventional implicatures, but are rather to be treated as presupposition triggers. Their special contributions are therefore not asserted, but presupposed. Hence, given the generic assumption that one lies only if one makes an assertion, one cannot lie with arguments in the way Sorensen proposes. Yet, since conventional implicatures are asserted, one can lie with conventional implicatures. Moreover, since conventional implicatures may be asserted by (...)
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  39. Proposing, Pretending, and Propriety: A Response to Don Fallis.Andreas Stokke - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):178-183.
    This note responds to criticism put forth by Don Fallis of an account of lying in terms of the Stalnakerian view of assertion. According to this account, to lie is to say something one believes to be false and thereby propose that it become common ground. Fallis objects by presenting an example to show that one can lie even though one does not propose to make what one says common ground. It is argued here that this objection does not present (...)
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  40. Jesus Loves You!Julia Zakkou - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (1):237–255.
    According to orthodox semantics, a given sentence as used at a given situation expresses at most one content. In the last decade, this view has been challenged with several objections. Many of them have been addressed in the literature. But one has gone almost unheeded. It stems from sentences that are used to address several people individually, like ‘Jesus loves you!’ as uttered by a priest at a sermon. Cappelen :23–46, 2008), Egan :251–279, 2009), López de Sa :241–253, 2014), and (...)
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  41. An Information Packaging Approach to Presuppositions and Conventional Implicatures.Barbara Abbott - 2016 - Topoi 35 (1):9-21.
    Within the relevant semantics and pragmatics literature the terms “presupposition” and “conventional implicature” are used in a variety of different, but frequently overlapping, ways. The overlaps are perhaps not surprising, given that the two categories of conveyed meaning share the property of remaining constant in the scope of other operators—the property usefully characterize as projectivity. One of my purposes in this paper will be to try to clarify these different usages. In addition to that we will explore two additional properties (...)
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  42. Presupposition Cancellation: Explaining the ‘Soft–Hard’ Trigger Distinction.Márta Abrusán - 2016 - Natural Language Semantics 24 (2):165-202.
    Some presuppositions are easier to cancel than others in embedded contexts. This contrast has been used as evidence for distinguishing two fundamentally different kinds of presuppositions, ‘soft’ and ‘hard’. ‘Soft’ presuppositions are usually assumed to arise in a pragmatic way, while ‘hard’ presuppositions are thought to be genuine semantic presuppositions. This paper argues against such a distinction and proposes to derive the difference in cancellation from inherent differences in how presupposition triggers interact with the context: their focus sensitivity, anaphoricity, and (...)
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  43. On Truth Unpersistence: At the Crossroads of Epistemic Modality and Discourse.Patrícia Amaral & Fabio Del Prete - 2016 - Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 34.
    We propose a semantic analysis of the particles afinal (European Portuguese) and alla fine (Italian) in terms of the notion of truth unpersistence, which combines both epistemic modality and constraints on discourse structure. We argue that the felicitous use of these modal particles requires that the truth of a proposition p* fail to persist through a temporal succession of epistemic states, where p* is incompatible with the proposition modified by afinal/alla fine, and that the interlocutors share knowledge of a previous (...)
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  44. Presupposition Failure and the Assertive Enterprise.Anne Bezuidenhout - 2016 - Topoi 35 (1):23-35.
    I outline a discourse-based account of presuppositions that relies on insights from the writings of Peter Strawson, as well as on insights from more recent work by Robert Stalnaker and Barbara Abbott. One of the key elements of my account is the idea that presuppositions are “assertorically inert”, in the sense that they are background propositions, rather than being part of the “at issue” or asserted content. Strawson is often assumed to have defended the view that the falsity of a (...)
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  45. Saying Nothing : In Defence of Syntactic and Semantic Underdetermination.Mark Bowker - 2016 - Dissertation, University of St Andrews
    According to the Encoding Model, speakers communicate by encoding the propositions they want to communicate into sentences, in accordance with the conventions of a language L. By uttering a sentence that encodes p, the speaker says that p. Communication is successful only if the audience identifies the proposition that the speaker intends to communicate, which is achieved by decoding the uttered sentence in accordance with the conventions of L. A consequence of the Encoding Model has been the proliferation of underdetermination (...)
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  46. Hybrid Evaluatives: In Defense of a Presuppositional Account.Bianca Cepollaro & Isidora Stojanovic - 2016 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 93 (3):458-488.
    In this paper, the authors present a presuppositional account for a class of evaluative terms that encode both a descriptive and an evaluative component: slurs and thick terms. The authors discuss several issues related to the hybrid nature of these terms, such as their projective behavior, the ways in which one may reject their evaluative content, and the ways in which evaluative content is entailed or implicated (as the case may be) by the use of such terms.
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  47. Using Triggers Without Projecting Presuppositions.Chris Cummins - 2016 - Topoi 35 (1):123-131.
    Presuppositions are capable of projecting from under the scope of operators such as negation, but do not obligatorily do so. This creates a potential difficulty for the hearer of presupposition-bearing utterances, especially given the fact that speaker can use presupposition to convey entirely new information. In this paper, I discuss the potential role of context in resolving this tension, and in particular, I argue that the inferences that are drawn about the current discourse purpose may be materially relevant to the (...)
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  48. Accommodating Presuppositions.Manuel García-Carpintero - 2016 - Topoi 35 (1):37-44.
    In this paper I elaborate on previous criticisms of the influential Stalnakerian account of presuppositions, pointing out that the well-known practice of informative presupposition puts heavy strain on Stalnaker’s pragmatic characterization of the phenomenon of presupposition, in particular of the triggering of presuppositions. Stalnaker has replied to previous criticisms by relying on the well-taken point that we should take into account the time at which presupposition-requirements are to be computed. In defense of a different, ‘semantic’ account of the phenomenon of (...)
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  49. Presuppositions as Anaphoric Duality Enablers.Christopher Gauker - 2016 - Topoi 35 (1):133-144.
    The key to an adequate account of presupposition projection is to accommodate the fact that the presuppositions of a sentence cannot always be read off the sentence but can often be identified only on the basis of prior utterances in the conversation in which the sentence is uttered. In addition, an account of presupposition requires a three-valued semantics of assertibility and deniability in a context. Presuppositions can be explicated as sentences that belong to the conversation and the assertibility of which (...)
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  50. On the Presuppositional Behavior of Coherence-Driven Pragmatic Enrichments.Andrew Kehler & Jonathan Cohen - 2016 - Semantics and Linguistic Theory 26:961-979.
    When interpreting a sentence such as Every time the company fires an employee who comes in late, a union complaint is lodged, an addressee is likely to infer that the union will only complain when an employee is fired because he came in late. One is thus led to ask why a purely pragmatic enrichment of this sort -- one drawn despite no risk of interpretative failure nor other linguistic mandate -- would intrude upon truth conditions. We argue that this (...)
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