•  39
    Toward a Taxonomy of Projective Content
    with Judith Tonhauser, David Beaver, and Craige Roberts
    Language 89 (1): 66-109. 2013.
    Projective contents, which include presuppositional inferences and Potts's conventional implicatures, are contents that may project when a construction is embedded, as standardly identified by the FAMILY-OF-SENTENCES diagnostic. This article establishes distinctions among projective contents on the basis of a series of diagnostics, including a variant of the family-of-sentences diagnostic, that can be applied with linguistically untrained consultants in the field and the laboratory. These diagno…Read more
  •  113
    What projects and why
    with David Beaver, Judith Tonhauser, and Craige Roberts
    Semantics and Linguistic Theory 20 309-327. 2010.
    The empirical phenomenon at the center of this paper is projection, which we define (uncontroversially) as follows: (1) Definition of projection An implication projects if and only if it survives as an utterance implication when the expression that triggers the implication occurs under the syntactic scope of an entailment-cancelling operator. Projection is observed, for example, with utterances containing aspectual verbs like stop, as shown in (2) and (3) with examples from English and Paraguaya…Read more
  •  59
    Natural Conventions and Indirect Speech Arts
    with Kevin J. S. Zollman
    Philosophers' Imprint 19. 2019.
    In this paper, we develop the notion of a natural convention, and illustrate its usefulness in a detailed examination of indirect requests in English. Our treatment of convention is grounded in Lewis’s seminal account; we do not here redefine convention, but rather explore the space of possibilities within Lewis’s definition, highlighting certain types of variation that Lewis de-emphasized. Applied to the case of indirect requests, which we view through a Searlean lens, the notion of natural con…Read more
  •  43
    Illocutionary Acts and Sentence Meaning (review)
    Philosophical Review 111 (1): 152. 2002.
    In this book, Alston articulates and argues for a use-based and normative account of sentence meaning. He proposes that sentence meaning consists in illocutionary act potential, the usability of a sentence for the performance of a certain illocutionary act type. This potential is itself explained in terms of illocutionary rules, normative rules governing the acceptable use of sentences.
  •  48
    Presuppositions and Relevance
    In Zoltan Gendler Szabo (ed.), Semantics Versus Pragmatics, Oxford University Press. pp. 329--255. 2005.
    Recall Grice’s well-worn example from Logic and Conversation about Smith, his girlfriend, and his trips to New York: (1) A: Smith doesn’t seem to have a girlfriend these days. B: He has been paying a lot of visits to NY recently. Grice says that in this dialogue, B implicates that Smith has, or may have, a girlfriend in New York. But in saying this, Grice under-describes his own example. For this proposition alone does not suffice to satisfy the requirements of Relation, the maxim presumed to be…Read more
  •  1
    Or Issues in the Semantics and Pragmatics of Disjunction
    Dissertation, Cornell University. 1998.
    Grice observes that the primary discourse function of disjunction is the presentation of alternatives, each of which is relevant in the same way to a given topic. After a brief introduction , I offer in Chapter Two an account of Grice's observation and of further felicity conditions on disjunction, for example, the constraint against disjunctions in which one disjunct entails another. Using an enriched version of the Stalnakerian model of assertion, I define two constraints on information update…Read more
  •  135
    Disjunction and alternativeness
    Linguistics and Philosophy 24 (5): 597-619. 2001.
  •  33
    The basic linguistic phenomenon of presupposition is commonplace and intuitive, little different from the relation described by the word presuppose in its everyday usage. In ordinary language, when we say that someone presupposes something, we mean that they assume it, or take it for granted. The term is used in the same way when we talk of a speaker presupposing something, although typically we are interested in those assumptions which are revealed by what the speaker says. To begin with the mo…Read more
  •  86
    Local pragmatics and structured contents
    Philosophical Studies 168 (1): 21-33. 2014.
    There is a long-standing and rarely contested view that Gricean conversational reasoning—the kind of reasoning that supports the identification of conversational implicatures—cannot produce pragmatically generated modification of the contents of embedded clauses. The goal of this paper is to argue against this view: to argue that embedded pragmatic effects can be seen as continuous with ordinary, utterance-level, conversational implicature. I will further suggest, though, that embedded pragmatic…Read more
  •  23
    There seems little doubt that there are interesting and theoretically relevant distinctions to be made between different types of presuppositions within this heterogeneous set. But the study of these distinctions is of interest primarily in light of the intuition that the members of this set share some common feature: that there is some singular phenomenon of presupposition to be described and explained. This paper is concerned with what presuppositions have in common, and offers an alternative …Read more
  •  83
    In this paper, I review a number of arguments in favor of treating many of the central cases of presupposition as the result of conversational inference, rather than as lexically specified properties of particular expressions. I then argue that, despite the standard assumption to the contrary, the view of presupposition as constraints on the common ground is not consistent with the provision of a conversational account of particular presuppositional constraints. The argument revolves crucially a…Read more
  •  67
    This paper discusses the semantically parenthetical use of clauseembedding verbs such as see, hear, think, believe, discover and know. When embedding verbs are used in this way, the embedded clause carries the main point of the utterance, while the main clause serves some discourse function. Frequently, this function is evidential, with the parenthetical verb carrying information about the source and reliability of the embedded claim, or about the speaker’s emotional orientation to it. Other fun…Read more
  •  16
    This paper examines a particular case of embedded pragmatic effect, here dubbed "local pragmatic enrichment". I argue that local enrichment is fairly easily accommodated within semantic theories which take content to be structured. Two standard approaches to dynamic semantics, DRT and Heimian CCS, are discussed as candidates. Focusing on cases of local enrichment of disjuncts in clausal disjunctions, I point out that in these cases, local enrichment is driven by global felicity requirements, dem…Read more
  •  168
    This paper offers a critical analysis of Stalnaker''s work on presupposition (Stalnaker1973, 1974, 1979, 1999, 2002). The paper examines two definitions of speaker presupposition offered by Stalnaker – the familiar common ground view, and the earlier,less familiar, dispositional account – and how Stalnaker relates this notion to the linguistic phenomenon of presupposition. Special attention is paid to Stalnaker's view of accommodation. I argue that given Stalnaker's views, accommodation is not r…Read more
  •  34
    Local pragmatics in a Gricean framework
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (5): 466-492. 2017.
    The pragmatic framework developed by H.P. Grice in “Logic and Conversation” explains how a speaker can mean something more than, or different from, the conventional meaning of the sentence she utters. But it has been argued that the framework cannot give a similar explanation for cases where these pragmatic effects impact the understood content of an embedded clause, such as the antecedent of a conditional, a clausal disjunct, or the clausal complement of a verb. In this paper, I show that such …Read more
  •  25
    This paper concerns what might be called the variably bad behavior of the word or. As is well known, there are a variety of environments in which the word or misbehaves – misbehaves, in the sense that it gives rise to interpretations which are not expected given the standard analysis of this word as, roughly, set union. One of these environments is the scope of a modal. This case has received a lot of attention recently in the literature, and a number of researchers, including myself, have propo…Read more
  •  56
    On the conversational basis of some presuppositions
    Semantics and Linguistic Theory 11. 2001.
    The current literature on presupposition focuses almost exclusively on the projection problem: the question of how and why the presuppositions of atomic clauses are projected to complex sentences which embed them. Very little attention has been paid to the question of how and why these presuppositions arise at all. As Kay (1992, p.335) observes, “treatments of the presupposition inheritance problem almost never deal with the reasons that individual words and constructions give rise, in the first…Read more
  •  68
    Dividing things up: The semantics of or and the modal/or interaction
    Natural Language Semantics 13 (3): 271-316. 2005.
    In this paper, the meanings of sentences containing the word or and a modal verb are used to arrive at a novel account of the meaning of or coordinations. It is proposed that or coordinations denote sets whose members are the denotations of the disjuncts; and that the truth conditions of sentences containing or coordinations require the existence of some set made available by the semantic environment which can be ‘divided up’ in accordance with the disjuncts. The relevant notion of ‘dividing thi…Read more
  •  10
    Interpreting Negatives in Discourse
    with Michael Kohlhase
    Michael Kohlhase and Mandy Simons. Interpreting Negatives in Discourse
  •  29
    Since linguists began extensive work on presupposition in the 1970's, a long and heterogeneous list has been compiled of expressions, expression types and constructions that give rise to presuppositions. In the current literature, the principal (but by no means sole) diagnostic for presupposition typically appealed to is the tendency of the particular element of meaning to project, i.e. to escape the scope of operators such as negation, the question operator, or modals. An important intuition al…Read more
  •  21
    Local pragmatics in a Gricean framework, revisited: response to three commentaries
    Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (5): 539-568. 2017.
    There are two central themes that occupy the commentaries, and hence this response. The first is the character and role of what is said, both in my account, and in pragmatic theory in general. In response, I lay out in more detail the proposal from my original paper that the starting point for Gricean reasoning should be not what is said, but the pragmatically uncommitted what is expressed. As part of this argument, I restate and provide further arguments for my claim that global and local pragm…Read more
  •  20
    The phenomenon we now know as projection was first observed by Frege in his brief remarks about presupposition in “Sense and Reference.” Frege observes there that the assertion that Kepler died in misery gives rise to the implication that the name Kepler has a referent; but that so too does the assertion that Kepler did not die in misery. Here we have the source of the observation that if p is a presupposition of S, then p is implied by (utterances of) S and by (utterances of) the negation of S.…Read more
  •  18
    This article reviews in detail Grice’s conception of conversational implicature, then surveys the major literature on scalar implicature from early work to the present. Embedded implicature is illustrated, and it is explained why this phenomenon poses a challenge to the Gricean view. Some alternate views of conversational implicature are then presented. The article concludes with a brief look at formal appraches to the study of implicature
  •  39
    Mandy Simons. On The Felicity Conditions of Disjunctive Sentences
  •  124
    Foundational issues in presupposition
    Philosophy Compass 1 (4). 2006.
    Unsurprisingly, the negation of sentence (1), shown in (3), does not share this entailment. Neither does the yes/no question formed from this sentence. Similarly, if we add a possibility modal to the sentence, or construct a conditional of which (1) is the antecedent, the resulting sentences do not share the entailment of the original, as we see from the examples below
  •  67
    Presuppositions, Conventional Implicature, and Beyond: A unified account of projection
    with Craige Roberts, Judith Tonhauser, and David I. Beaver
    In Nathan Klinedist & Daniel Rothschild (eds.), Proceedings of Workshop on New Directions in the Theory of Presuppositions, Essli 2009. 2009.
    We define a notion of projective meaning which encompasses both classical presuppositions and phenomena which are usually regarded as non-presuppositional but which also display projection behavior—Horn’s assertorically inert entailments, conventional implicatures (both Grice’s and Potts’) and some conversational implicatures. We argue that the central feature of all projective meanings is that they are not-at-issue, defined as a relation to the question under discussion. Other properties differ…Read more