On Conceivability and Existence in Linguistic Interpretation

Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10257)


This paper discusses the role of existence presuppositions and conceivability in linguistic interpretation. In particular, it is discussed evidence that the non-emptiness requirement on universally-quantified propositions might be satisfied through access to a background of knowledge concerning what might be the case in the actual world, as opposed to a background of knowledge concerning what is actually the case. The evidence discussed comes from empirical observations on the behavior of the scalar implicature mechanism. The crucial piece evidence amounts to the fact that the entailment pattern with existentially-quantified propositions, which is crucial to generate the desired inference, is established when quantifiers range over non-existing but conceivable entities, but it cannot be established when quantifiers range over non-exiting and inconceivable entities.


Existence presupposition Entailment Implicatures Conceivability 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS)BerlinGermany

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