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Maribel Romero, Dr. phil., Professorin

Second phase (September 2015 - August 2018)

P2 Semantics and Pragmatics of Counterfactuals: From sentence to discourse

People

Description

P2 investigates the division of labor between semantics and pragmatics in the interpretation of conditionals. We explore this question in three domains: at the sentence level, at the discourse level, and at the interface with epistemology.

At the sentence level, we will examine the morphological composition of the full paradigm of conditional constructions. We will demonstrate how the observed differences in morphological construction yield the observed differences in truth and/or felicity conditions for the many conditionals in the paradigm. We will also explain why utterances of some kinds of conditional systematically but cancellably generate the information that their antecedents are unlikely, why utterances of other kinds of conditionals systematically (and only sometimes cancellably) generate the information that their antecedents are false, and why utterances of the remaining kinds of conditionals are not systematically attended by either kind of information.

At the discourse level we engage the debate over strict and variably strict analyses of conditionals. There are two arguments in favor of a strict analysis: (i) a strict analysis is in a better position to account for the felicity of Sobel sequences and infelicity of reverse Sobel sequences; (ii) the strict analysis explains NPI licensing in conditional antecedents. The strict conditional explanation of the Sobel sequence data has recently been challenged by a large body of data regarding sequences of conditionals. We will investigate an explanation for the Sobel data in terms of rhetorical relations. Our alternative has the potential to explain all of the available data. We will also investigate some shortcomings in the explanation for NPI licensing in conditional antecedents by the strict analysis. That argument subsumes the explanation for NPI-licensing in conditional antecedents under a widely successful generalization that explains NPI-licensing in other domains. However, the key ingredient that is added in extending the account to conditionals threatens to undermine the success of the generalization in some focus-sensitive domains. We investigate whether the constructions at issue --non-adnominal only and complements of attitude verbs like regret and surprise-- can maintain their focus sensitivity while at the same time licensing NPIs as proposed in von Fintel?s analysis.

At the interface with epistemology, we study the interaction between conditionals, epistemic modals, and evidentials to develop tools that will help bridge a gap at the border between semantics and epistemology. Epistemologists are concerned with modelling how individuals should change their beliefs in the light of new information. Conditionals play a special role in such theories, since your degree of belief in some proposition C, after receiving information A, should be closely related to what your degree of belief in C if A was before you learned A. However, existing theories of the dynamics of belief by epistemologists have taken conditionals to lack truth values. This raises the embedding problem: if conditionals lack truth conditions, how do we explain the interpretability of complex sentences with conditional components? We expect fruit from studying conditionals together with evidentials and epistemic modals because the members of all three classes of lexical items (i) contribute information about the likelihood of the propositions they are attached to and (ii) are embeddable, though in an interestingly restricted way.

Publications

Csipak, E. 2017. Referentially used definite descriptions can be conditionalized. In: A. Cremers, T. van Gessel and F. Roelofsen, eds., Proceedings of the 21st Amsterdam Colloquium 2017: 205-214.

Krassnig, D. To appear. Simple even hypothesis: NPIs and differences in question bias. In: Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21.

Krassnig, D. 2017. Sobel and Lewis Sequences - Relevancy or Imprecision?. In: A. Cremers, T. van Gessel and F. Roelofsen, eds., Proceedings of the 21st Amsterdam Colloquium 2017: 325-334.

Leahy, B. To appear. Counterfactual antecedent falsity and the epistemic sensitivity of counterfactuals. In: Philosophical Studies.

Perner, J., M. Huemer, and B. Leahy. 2015. Mental files and belief: A cognitive theory of how children represent belief and its intensionality. In: Cognition. : 77-88.

Romero, M. 2017. Tense and Mood in Counterfactual Conditionals: The View from Spanish. In: A. Cremers, T. van Gessel and F. Roelofsen, eds., Proceedings of the 21st Amsterdam Colloquium 2017: 375-384.

Presentations

Biezma, M. and M. Romero. 2015. The Common Ground for linguists. At the Symposium with Robert Stalknaker on Context, University of Konstanz, September 21, 2015.

Csipak, E. 2017. Referentially used definite descriptions can be conditionalized. Talk at the 21st Amsterdam Colloquium 2017, December 2017.

Csipak, E. 2018. Conditionalizing DPs. Talk at Logic Colloquium, Konstanz, February 2018.

Csipak, E. 2018. Realis subjunctives in German. Talk at What if? Research Group Jour Fixe, February 2018.

Csipak, E. 2018. Conditionalizing referential uses of definite descriptions. Presented at DGfS 2018, Stuttgart, March 2018.

Krassnig, D. 2016. Conditionals, Even, and NPIs. Talk at What if? Research Group Jour Fixe, November 2016.

Krassnig, D. 2016. Simple even hypothesis: NPIs and Differences in Question Bias. Talk at Sinn und Bedeutung 21, September 2016.

Krassnig, D. 2018. Sobel Sequences - Imprecision or Relevancy? Talk at What if? Research Group General Meeting Retreat, Hotel St. Elisabeth, January 2018.

Leahy, B. 2017. Commentary on Patricia Ganea and Angela Nyhout, "What if reality matters?". Commentary at What If: The Semantics, Pragmatics, & Psychology of Counterfactuals, University of Toronto, May 2017.

Leahy, B. 2017. Teleology-In-Perspective: The Role of Counterfactual Reasoning in False Belief Reasoning. Poster at International Convention of Psychological Science, Vienna, March 2017.

Leahy, B. 2017. Teleology-In-Perspective: Clarifying the Role of Counterfactual Reasoning in False Belief Reasoning. Talk at Budapest CEU Conference on Cognitive Development, Central European University, January 2017.

Leahy, B. 2016. Discussion of Craige Roberts, Anaphora in Intensional Contexts. Talk at What if? Research Group Jour Fixe, December 2016.

Leahy, B. 2016. What's So Cool About Counterfactual Reasoning? Talk at Interdisciplinary Workshop on Counterfactual Reasoning, University of Toronto, November 2016.

Leahy, B. 2016. Teleology-In-Perspective: Clarifying the Role of Counterfactual Reasoning in False Belief Reasoning. Talk at What If? Research Group General Meeting, University of Konstanz, November 2016.

Leahy, B. 2016. Teleology-In-Perspective: Clarifying the Role of Counterfactual Reasoning in False Belief Reasoning. Talk at 2nd Belgrade Conference on Conditionals, University of Belgrade, May 2016.

Raidl, E. and Leahy, B. 2017. Informative Test Semantics for Indicative Conditionals. Talk at 3rd Belgrade Conference on Conditionals, University of Belgrade, May 2017.

Raidl, E. and Leahy, B. 2017. Informative Test Semantics for Indicative Conditionals. Talk at What if? Research Group Jour Fixe, University of Konstanz, May 2017.

Zuletzt gešndert am 02.04.2018.