Anti-Dynamics, Presupposition Projection Without Dynamic Semantics

Anti-Dynamics, Presupposition Projection Without Dynamic Semantics

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J Logic Lang Info (2007) 16:325–356 DOI 10.1007/s10849-006-9034-x ORIGINAL ARTICLE Anti-dynamics: presupposition projection without dynamic semantics Philippe Schlenker Received: 2 October 2006 / Accepted: 27 November 2006 / Published online: 8 February 2007 ©Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007 Abstract Heim 1983 suggested that the analysis of presupposition projection re- quires that the classical notion of meanings as truth conditions be replaced with a dynamic notion of meanings as Context Change Potentials . But as several researchers (including Heim herself) later noted, the dynamic framework is insufficiently predic- tive: although it allows one to state that, say, the dynamic effect of F and G is to first update a Context Set C with F and then with G (i.e., C[F and G] = C[F][G]), it fails to explain why there couldn’t be a ‘deviant’ conjunction and* which performed these operations in the opposite order (i.e., C[F and* G] = C[G][F]). We provide a formal introduction to a competing framework, the Transparency theory, which addresses this problem. Unlike dynamic semantics, our analysis is fully classical , i.e., bivalent and static. And it derives the projective behavior of connectives from their bivalent meaning and their syntax. We concentrate on the formal properties of a simple version of the theory, and we prove that (i) full equivalence with Heim’s results is guaranteed in the propositional case ( Theorem 1 ), and that (ii) the equivalence can be extended to the quantificational case (for any generalized quantifiers), but only when certain conditions are met ( Theorem 2 ). Keywords Presupposition · Dynamic semantics · Trivalence · Presupposition projection 1 The projection problem and the dynamic dilemma 1.1 The projection problem Howarethepresuppositionsofcomplexsentencescomputedfromthemeaningsoftheir component parts? This is the so-called ‘Projection Problem,’ which is illustrated in (1): P. Schlenker ( B ) UCLA, Los Angeles, USA P. Schlenker Institut Jean-Nicod, Paris, France
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326 Philippe Schlenker (1) a. The king of Moldavia is powerful. b. Moldavia is a monarchy and the king of Moldavia is powerful. c. If Moldavia is a monarchy, the king of Moldavia is powerful. (1)a presupposes (incorrectly) that Moldavia has a king. But the examples in (1)b–c presuppose no such thing; they only presuppose that if Moldavia is a monarchy, it has a king (a condition which is satisfied if one knows that Moldavia is in Eastern Europe and that Eastern-European monarchies are of the French type, i.e., that if they have a monarch, it is a king, not a queen). How can these facts be explained? Minimally, a theory of presupposition projection should be descriptively adequate and thus provide an algorithm to compute the presuppositions of complex sentences. If possible, the theory should also be explanatory and thus derive the algorithm from independent considerations (though what counts as more or less explanatory may be a matter of debate).
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