Maximize Presupposition and Gricean reasoning
- 874 Downloads
Recent semantic research has made increasing use of a principle, Maximize Presupposition, which requires that under certain circumstances the strongest possible presupposition be marked. This principle is generally taken to be irreducible to standard Gricean reasoning because the forms that are in competition have the same assertive content. We suggest, however, that Maximize Presupposition might be reducible to the theory of scalar implicatures. (i)First, we consider a special case: the speaker utters a sentence with a presupposition p which is not initially taken for granted by the addressee, but the latter takes the speaker to be an authority on the matter. Signaling the presupposition provides new information to the addressee; but it also follows from the logic of presupposition qua common belief that the presupposition is thereby satisfied (Stalnaker, Ling Philos 25(5–6):701–721, 2002). (ii) Second, we generalize this solution to other cases. We assume that even when p is common belief, there is a very small chance that the addressee might forget it (‘Fallibility’); in such cases, marking a presupposition will turn out to generate new information by re-establishing part of the original context. We also adopt from Raj Singh (Nat Lang Semantics 19(2):149–168, 2011) the hypothesis that presupposition maximization is computed relative to local contexts—and we assume that these too are subject to Fallibility; this accounts for cases in which the information that justifies the presupposition is linguistically provided. (iii) Finally, we suggest that our assumptions have benefits in the domain of implicatures: they make it possible to reinterpret Magri’s ‘blind’ (i.e. context-insensitive) implicatures as context-sensitive implicatures which just happen to be misleading.
KeywordsPresupposition Implicatures Pragmatics Antipresuppositions Implicated presuppositions
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
This is an expanded version of a manuscript that has been circulating for several years. I wish to thank the following for helpful remarks and criticisms: Barbara Abbott, Emmanuel Chemla, Paul Egré, Nathan Klinedinst, Giorgio Magri, Uli Sauerland and Benjamin Spector. Special thanks to Emmanuel Chemla and Giorgio Magri for very detailed suggestions and criticisms, and to Nathan Klinedinst for discussion of some of the data. An anonymous referee for Natural Language Semantics also provided very helpful suggestions and criticisms. The author gratefully acknowledges the past financial support of the American Council of Learned Societies (‘Ryskamp Fellowship’) and of UCLA. This research was supported in part by a grant from the National Science Foundation (BCS 0902671) and by a Euryi grant from the European Science Foundation (“Presupposition: a formal pragmatic approach”). Neither foundation is responsible for the claims made here.
- Chemla, Emmanuel. 2007a. Présuppositions et implicatures scalaires: études formelles et expérimentales. Doctoral dissertation, école des Hautes études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.Google Scholar
- Chemla, Emmanuel. 2007b. French both: A gap in the theory of antipresupposition. Snippets 15: 4–5.Google Scholar
- Chemla, Emmanuel. 2008a. Similarity: Towards a unified account of scalar implicatures, free choice permission and presupposition projection. Manuscript, LSCP, Paris.Google Scholar
- Chierchia, Gennaro, Danny Fox, and Benjamin Spector. To appear. The grammatical view of scalarity and the relationship between semantics and pragmatics. In Semantics: An international handbook of Natural Language meaning, ed. Paul Portner, Claudia Maienborn, and Klaus von Heusinger. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Cooper, R. 1983. Quantification and syntactic theory. Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
- Fagin, R., J. Halpern, Y. Moses, and M. Vardi. 1995. Reasoning about knowledge. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- George, Benjamin. 2008a, Predicting presupposition projection: Some alternatives in the strong Kleene tradition. Manuscript, UCLA. Semantics Archive. http://semanticsarchive.net/Archive/DY0YTgxN/.
- George, Benjamin: 2008b, Presupposition repairs: A static, trivalent approach to predicting presupposition. MA thesis, UCLA. Semantics Archive. http://semanticsarchive.net/Archive/2ZiYmEyN/.
- Geurts, Bart. 1999. Presupposition and pronouns. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Heim, I. 1991. Artikel und Definitheit. In Semantik: Ein internationales Handbuch der zeitgenössischen Forschung, ed. A. von Stechow and D. Wunderlich, 487–534. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Heim, Irene. 1983. On the projection problem for presuppositions. In Proceedings of WCCFL 2, ed. D. Flickinger et al., 114–125. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
- Heim, I. 2005. Features on bound pronouns. Manuscript, MIT.Google Scholar
- Heim, I., and A. Kratzer. 1998. Semantics in generative grammar. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Magri, Giorgio. 2011. Another argument for embedded scalar implicatures based on oddness in downward entailing contexts. In Proceedings of SALT 20, ed. Nan Li and David Lutz, 564–581. eLanguage.Google Scholar
- Magri, Giorgio. 2012. Is fallibility different from blindness? A reply to Schlenker (2012). Manuscript, Institut Jean-Nicod, CNRS.Google Scholar
- Osborne, M., and A. Rubinstein. 1994. A course in game theory. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Percus, Orin. 2006. Anti-presuppositions. In Theoretical and empirical studies of reference and anaphora: Toward the establishment of generative grammar as an empirical science. Report of the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (B), Project No. 15320052, ed. A.␣Ueyama, 52–73. Washington: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science.Google Scholar
- Rooth, Mats. 1996. Focus. In The handbook of contemporary semantic theory, ed. S.␣Lappin, 271–298. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Sauerland, Uli. 2003. Implicated presuppositions. Handout for a talk presented at the University of Milan Bicocca.Google Scholar
- Sauerland, Uli. 2008. Implicated presuppositions. In Sentence and context: Language, context, and cognition, ed. A.␣Steube. Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Schlenker, Philippe. 2004. Person and binding: a partial survey. Italian Journal of Linguistics/Rivista di Linguistica 16 (1): 155–218.Google Scholar
- Schlenker, Philippe. 2005a. The lazy Frenchman’s approach to the subjunctive. In Romance languages and linguistic theory 2003, ed. T.␣Geerts, I. van Ginneken, and H. Jacobs, 269–309. Amsterdam: Benjamins.Google Scholar
- Schlenker, Philippe. 2005b. Minimize restrictors! (Notes on definite descriptions, condition C and epithets) In Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 2004, ed. Emar Maier, Corien Bary, and Janneke Huitink, 385–416. Nijmegen: NCS.Google Scholar
- Schlenker, Philippe. 2007. Transparency: An incremental theory of presupposition projection. In Presupposition and implicature in compositional semantics, ed. U.␣Sauerland, and P. Stateva, 214–242. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Schlenker, Philippe. 2008. Be articulate: A pragmatic theory of presupposition projection. Theoretical Linguistics 34(3): 157–212.Google Scholar
- Schwarzschild, Roger. 1997. Interpreting accent. Manuscript, Rutgers University.Google Scholar
- Stalnaker, R. 1978. Assertion. Syntax and Semantics 9: 315–332.Google Scholar