Towards a Radically Pragmatic Theory of If-Conditionals
2011 (English)In: Making Semantics Pragmatic / [ed] Ken Turner, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011, 103-141 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
It is generally agreed that constructions of the form “if P, Q” are capable of conveying a number of different relations between antecedent and consequent, with pragmatics playing a central role in determining these relations. Controversy concerns what the conventional contribution of the if-clause is, how it constrains the pragmatic processes, and what those processes are. In this essay, I begin to argue that the conventional contribution of if-clauses to semantics is exhausted by the fact that these clauses introduce a proposition without presenting it as true so that the consequent can be understood in relation to it. Given our cognitive interests in such non-truth-presentational introductions, conditionals will make salient the wide but nevertheless disciplined variety of contents that we naturally attribute to them; no further substantial constraints of the sorts proposed by standard theories of conditionals are needed to explain the phenomena. If this is correct, it provides prima facie evidence for a radically contextualist account of conditionals according to which conditionals have no truth-evaluable or intuitively complete content absent some contextually provided, sufficiently salient relation between antecedent and consequent.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2011. 103-141 p.
, Current Research in the Semantics/Pragmatics Interface, ISSN 1472-7870 ; 24
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-73448DOI: 10.1108/S1472-7870(2011)0000024007ISBN: 978-0-85724-909-8OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-73448DiVA: diva2:472492