Erotetic Inferences and How Questions Arise

Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 252)


When we speak about inferences, we customarily assume that only declarative sentences can serve as their premises and conclusions. Questions are not declarative sentences; it is also a matter of discussion whether questions can be qualified as true and false. On the other hand, there are inferential thought processes in which questions play the role of “conclusions” whereas the “premises” are declarative sentences, declarative sentences and a question, or a question alone. It often happens that we arrive at a question on the basis of some previously accepted declarative sentences or sentence. When we accept that:
  • (1.1) The theory of ideas is presented in the writings of Plato.

  • (1.2) If the theory of ideas is presented in the writings of Plato, then it was invented by either Plato or Socrates.


Initial Question Direct Answer True Answer Political Center Eleventh Century 
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  1. 1.
    Some speakers of English find the expression “the arising of a question” incorrect; some others disagree with them. We share the view of the second. Some speakers of English would prefer the expression “a question arising” here; yet, this expressions in the context “the concept of a question arising from ...” might misleadingly suggest that we are interested in a property of questions rather than in the underlying relation which holds between a question which arises from a given background and this background. Some languages (e.g. Polish) have a special expression referring to the latter case (“powstawanie pytań”) which is distinct from that referring to the former case (“pytanie powstajace”).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cf. Chapter 3, Section 3.2.1 for more information.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    For the concept of explication see, e.g., Carnap (1950), pp. 1–18.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Cf. Harrah (1984), p. 755. The concept of presupposition of a question will be defined in Chapter 4.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    We do not regard the negation of the sentence (1.79) as a direct answer to the analyzed question; it is a corrective answer to it.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    This is Sylvain Bromberger’s example (cf. Bromberger, 1992, p. 137). Bromberger, however, uses it for other purpose.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Let us stress, however, that Belnap analyzes the situation in which a question does not arise in relation to all the beliefs of a questioner.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    We disregard here the distinction between the so-called nominal truth and the so-called real truth; we also disregard the distinction between questions and interrogatives.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    The class of normal interpretations is assumed to be a subclass of the class of all interpretations (for details see Belnap & Steel, 1976, p. 10 et at.).Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Cf. Groenendijk & Stokhof (1984), pp. 21, 466, 478.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    For the interrogative model and its applications see Hintikka, (1981), (1984a), (1984b), (1985a), (1985b), (1987a), (1987b), (1988), (1989a), (1989b), (1992a), (1992b). See also Hintikka & Hintikka (1982), Garrison (1988), Hintikka & Harris (1988), Sintonen (1993), Halonen (1994).Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    In Wiśniewski (1991a) evocation is called weak generation. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Adam Mickiewicz UniversityPoznańPoland

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