Negation and presupposition, truth and falsity

Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric 54 (1):15-46 (2018)
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There are many kinds of negation and denial. Perhaps the most common is the Boolean negation not that applies to propositions-in-extension, i.e. truth-values. The others are, inter alia, the property of propositions of not being true which applies to propositions; the complement function which applies to sets; privation which applies to properties; negation as failure applied in logic programming; negation as argumentation ad absurdum, and many others. The goal of this paper is neither to provide a complete list, nor to analyse all of them. Rather, I am going to deal with negation of propositions that come attached with a presupposition that is entailed by the positive as well as negated form of a given proposition. However, there are two kinds of negation, namely internal and external negation. I am going to prove that while the former is presupposition-preserving, the latter is presupposition-denying. This issue has much in common with the difference between topic and focus articulation within a sentence. Whereas articulating the topic of a sentence activates a presupposition, articulating the focus frequently yields merely an entailment. The main contribution of this paper is the proof that the two kinds of negation are not equivalent. While the Russellian wide-scope (external) negation gets the truthconditions of a sentence right for a subject occurring as a focus, Strawsonian narrow-scope (internal) negation is validly applicable for a subject occurring as the topic. I also deal with other kinds of presupposition triggers, in particular factive attitudes and prerequisites of a given property. My background theory is Transparent Intensional Logic (TIL). TIL is an expressive logic apt for the analysis of sentences with presuppositions, because in TIL we work with partial functions, in particular with propositions with truth-value gaps. Moreover, the procedural semantics of TIL make it possible to uncover the hidden semantic features of sentences, make them explicit and logically tractable.



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