On Presuppositional Implicatures

Topoi 35 (1):83-91 (2016)
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Abstract

Scalar implicatures arise when a speaker uses a logically weak alternative in a context where a logically stronger alternative was available. Presuppositional implicatures, as I call them, arise when a speaker uses a presuppositionally weak alternative when a presuppositionally stronger alternative was available. My goal is to give a detailed, working theory of presuppositional implicatures, and show that they are a special case of scalar implicatures. In doing so, I carefully contrast presuppositional implicatures with antipresuppositions. These two phenomena have been treated as closely related in the literature, but some differences have not been adequately appreciated. Antipresuppositions are observed when a presuppositionally weak alternative is infelicitously used in a context that satisfies the presupposition of a presuppositionally stronger alternative. Presuppositional implicatures arise when a presuppositionally weak alternative is felicitously used in a context that does not satisfy the presupposition of a presuppositionally stronger alternative, but where that stronger presupposition would have been accommodated. Attention to this difference reveals a shortcoming in Schlenker’s theory of presuppositional implicature. This paper both identifies and remedies that shortcoming

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Author's Profile

Brian Leahy
Harvard University

References found in this work

Assertion.Robert Stalnaker - 1978 - Syntax and Semantics (New York Academic Press) 9:315-332.
Pragmatic Presuppositions.Robert Stalnaker - 1974 - In Context and Content. Oxford University Press. pp. 47--62.
Pragmatics.Sally McConnell-Ginet - 1986 - Philosophical Review 95 (1):123-127.
What is Presupposition Accommodation, Again?Kai von Fintel - 2008 - Philosophical Perspectives 22 (1):137--170.
Maximize Presupposition and Gricean Reasoning.Philippe Schlenker - 2012 - Natural Language Semantics 20 (4):391-429.

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