, Volume 147, Issue 2, pp 343–377 | Cite as

A Pragmatic Solution for the Paradox of Free Choice Permission

  • Katrin Schulz


In this paper, a pragmatic approach to the phenomenon of free choice permission is proposed. Free choice permission is explained as due to taking the speaker (i) to obey certain Gricean maxims of conversation and (ii) to be competent on the deontic options, i.e. to know the valid obligations and permissions. The approach differs from other pragmatic approaches to free choice permission in giving a formally precise description of the class of inferences that can be derived based on these two assumptions. This formalization builds on work of Halpern and Moses (1984) on the concept of ‘only knowing’, generalized by Hoek et al., (1999, 2000), and Zimmermann’s (2000) approach to competence.


Free Choice Precise Description Pragmatic Approach Pragmatic Solution Gricean Maxim 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Alonso-Ovalle, L.: 2004, Equal rights for every disjunct! Quantification over alternatives or pointwise context chance?, handout, Sinn und Bedeutung 9, Nijmegen Google Scholar
  2. Blackburn, P.,  et al. 2001Modal LogicCambridge University PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  3. Forbes, G. 2003Meaning-postulates, inference, and the relation/notional ambiguityFacta Philosophica54974Google Scholar
  4. Gazdar, G. 1979PragmaticsAcademic PressLondonGoogle Scholar
  5. Geurts, B.:(to appear), Entertaining alternatives, Natural Language Semantics Google Scholar
  6. Grice, P. 1989Studies in the Way of WordsHarvard University PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Groenendijk, J. and M. Stokhof: 1984, Studies in the Semantics of Questions and the Pragmatics of Answers, Ph.D. thesis, University of AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  8. Halpern, J.Y., Moses, Y. 1984Towards a theory of knowledge and ignoranceAmerican Association for Artificial IntelligenceNew Paltz NY165193Proceedings 1984 Non-monotonic reasoning workshopGoogle Scholar
  9. Hirschberg, J.: 1985, A Theory of Scalar Implicature, Ph.D. thesis, University of PennsylvaniaGoogle Scholar
  10. Hoek, W., van, der,  et al. 1999Persistence and minimality in epistemic logicAnnals of Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence272547Google Scholar
  11. Hoek, W., van, der,  et al. 2000A General Approach to Multi-Agent Minimal KnowledgeOjeda-Aciego, M.Guzman, I. P.Brewka, G.Pereira, L. M. eds. Proceedings JELLIA 2000. LNAI 1919Springer VerlagHeidelberg254268Google Scholar
  12. Horn, L.: 1972, The Semantics of Logical Operators in English, Ph.D. thesis, Yale UniversityGoogle Scholar
  13. Horn, L. 1989A Natural History of NegationUniversity of Chicago PressChicagoGoogle Scholar
  14. Kamp, H.: 1973, Free choice permission, in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, N. S. 74, 57–74Google Scholar
  15. Kamp, H. 1979Semantics versus PragmaticsGuenther, F.Schmidt, S.J. eds. Formal Semantics and Pragmatics of Natural LanguagesReidelDordrecht255287Google Scholar
  16. Lewis, D.,  et al. 1970A problem about permissionSaarinen,  eds. Essays in Honor of Jaakko HintikkaReidelDordrecht163175Google Scholar
  17. Merin, A. 1992Permission Sentences stand in the Way of Boolean and other Lattice Theoretic SemanticsJournal of Semantics995152Google Scholar
  18. Rooy, R. 2000Permission to ChangeJournal of Semantics17119145Google Scholar
  19. Rooy, R., Schulz, K. 2004Exhaustive Interpretation of Complex SentencesJournal of Logic, Language, and Computation13491519Google Scholar
  20. Schulz, K.: 2004, You May Read it Now or Later: A Case Study on the Paradox of Free Choice Permission, master thesis, University of AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  21. Soames, S. 1982How presuppositions are inherited: A solution to the projection problemLinguistic Inquiry13483545Google Scholar
  22. Wright, G. H. von: 1969, An Essay on Deontic Logic and the Theory of Action, AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
  23. Zimmermann, T. E. 2000Free choice disjunction and epistemic possibilityNatural Language Semantics8255290CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of philosophy (ILLC)University of AmsterdamAmsterdam

Personalised recommendations