, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 301–316 | Cite as

A truth-conditional formulation of Karttunen's account of presupposition

  • Stanley Peters


Karttunen's seminal 1973 article ‘Presuppositions of compound sentences’, lays the groundwork for the elegant and fruitful theory of this subject which he subsequently presented in (1974). In (1973, pp. 185–8), however, he fallaciously argued that the regularities he discovered concerning the behavior of and, or, and if ... then in English cannot be embodied in any three-valued logic giving a truth-functional interpretation to these connectives. The present paper refutes Karttunen's argument by exhibiting an interpretation with the desired properties, and shows further how the full articulation of his 1974 system can be developed naturally within a truth-conditional semantics for English if bivalence is abandoned — contrary to what Karttunen expected.


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  1. Karttunen, Lauri: (1973) ‘Presuppositions of compound sentences’, Linguistic Inquiry 4, 169–193.Google Scholar
  2. Karttunen, Lauri: (1974) ‘Presupposition and linguistic context’, Theoretical Linguistics 1, 181–194.Google Scholar
  3. Stalnaker, Robert: (1978) ‘Assertion’, in Peter Cole (ed.), Syntax and Semantics, vol. 9: Pragmatics, Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Co 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stanley Peters
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Texas at AustinUSA

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