Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 273–297 | Cite as

Circumstantial and temporal dependence in counterfactual modals

Article

Abstract

“Counterfactual” readings of might/could have were previously analyzed using metaphysical modal bases. This paper presents examples and scenarios where the assumptions of such a branching-time semantics are not met, because there are facts at the base world that preclude the complement of the modal becoming true. Additional arguments show that counterfactual readings are context dependent. These data motivate a semantics using a circumstantial (or factual) modal base, which refers to context-dependent facts about a world and time. The analysis is formulated in a version of premise semantics for modality.

Keywords

Metaphysical modality Circumstantial modality Premise semantics Interactions between tense and modality Branching time Natural language semantics 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abusch, Dorit. 1998. Generalizing tense semantics for future contexts. In Events and grammar, ed. Susan Rothstein, 13–33. Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Abusch, Dorit. 2007. Temporal and circumstantial dependence in counterfactual modals. In Proceedings of the sixteenth Amsterdam colloquium, 37–42. ILLC, University of Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  3. Bach, Emmon. 1986. Natural language metaphysics. In Logic, methodology, and philosophy of science VII, ed. R. Barcan Marcus, G.J.W. Dorn, and P. Weingartner, 573–595. Amsterdam: North Holland.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Condoravdi, Cleo. 2002. Temporal interpretation of modals: Modals for the present and for the past. In The construction of meaning, ed. David Beaver, Luis D. Cassillas Maritinez, Brandy Z. Clark, and Stephan Kaufmann, 59–88. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  5. Goodman, Nelson. 1955. Fact, fiction, and forecast. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Hacquard, Valentine. 2010. On the event relativity of modal auxiliaries. Natural Language Semantics 18(1): 79–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kansas Supreme Court. 2001. Judgment in State vs. Jones, State of Kansas, Appellee, v. Russell J. Jones, Appellant, No. 84,810.Google Scholar
  8. Karttunen, Lauri. 1977. Syntax and semantics of questions. Linguistics and Philosophy 1(1): 3–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Kratzer, Angelika. 1981a. Partition and revision: The semantics of counterfactuals. Journal of Philosophical Logic 10: 242–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Kratzer, Angelika. 1981b. The notional category of modality. In Words, worlds, and contexts. New approaches in word semantics, ed. H.J. Eikmeyer, and H. Rieser, 38–74. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  11. Kratzer, Angelika. 1991. Modality. In Semantics: An international handbook of contemporary research, ed. Arnim von Stechow, and Dieter Wunderlich, 639–650. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  12. Kratzer, Angelika. 2002. Facts: Particulars or information units? Linguistics and Philosophy 25(5–6): 655–670.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Lewis, David. 1973. Counterfactuals. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  14. Lewis, David. 1981. Ordering semantics and premise semantics for counterfactuals. Journal of Philosophical Logic 10(2): 217–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Mondadori, Fabrizio. 1978. Remarks on tense and mood: The perfect future. In Studies in formal semantics: Intensionality, temporality, negation, ed. Franz Guenthner and Christian Rohrer, 223–248. Amsterdam: North Holland.Google Scholar
  16. Stowell, Tim. 2004. Tense and modals. In The syntax of time, ed. J. Gueron and J. Lecarme, 621–636. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Thomason, Richmond H. 1984. Combinations of tense and modality. In Handbook of philosophical logic, Vol. 2, 135–165. Dordrecht: D. Reidel.Google Scholar
  18. Veltman, Frank. 1976. Prejudices, presuppositions, and the theory of counterfactuals. In Proceedings of the 1st Amsterdam colloquium, ed. J. Groenendijk and M. Stokhof, 248–281. Amsterdam: University of Amsterdam.Google Scholar
  19. von Fintel, Kai, and Anthony S. Gillies. 2008. CIA leaks. Philosophical Review 117(1): 77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. von Fintel, Kai, and Irene Heim. 2007. Intensional semantics. Lecture notes, MIT.Google Scholar
  21. von Stechow, Arnim. 2003. Feature deletion under semantic binding: Tense, person, and mood under verbal quantifiers. In Proceedings of NELS 33, ed. Makoto Kadowaki and Shigeto Kawahara, 397–403. Amherst: University of Massachusetts at Amherst.Google Scholar
  22. Yun, Jiwon. 2006. Tense, modals, and counterfactuality. Manuscript, Department of Linguistics, Cornell University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA

Personalised recommendations