Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 205-250

Pragmatic Meaning and Non-monotonic Reasoning: The Case of Exhaustive Interpretation

  • Katrin SchulzAffiliated withInstitute for Language, Logic and Computation (ILLC), University of Amsterdam
  • , Robert Van RooijAffiliated withInstitute for Language, Logic and Computation (ILLC), University of Amsterdam Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


In this paper an approach to the exhaustive interpretation of answers is developed. It builds on a proposal brought forward by Groenendijk and Stokhof (1984). We will use the close connection between their approach and McCarthy’s (1980, 1986) predicate circumscription and describe exhaustive interpretation as an instance of interpretation in minimal models, well-known from work on counterfactuals (see for instance Lewis (1973)). It is shown that by combining this approach with independent developments in semantics/pragmatics one can overcome certain limitations of Groenenedijk and Stokhof’s (1984) proposal. In the last part of the paper we will provide a Gricean motivation for exhaustive interpretation building on work of Schulz (to appear) and van Rooij and Schulz (2004).