Author: Stefan Kaufmann

The interaction between demonstratives and relative clauses – a view from Mandarin

I-Ta Chris Hsieh, National Tsing Hua University, Taiwan

A demonstrative such as that and those may have various uses, be it deictic, anaphoric, or purely descriptive. One of the approaches to demonstratives, namely the Hidden Argument Theory (henceforth, HAT) approach (e.g., King 2001, Blumberg 2020, Nowak 2021, Ahn 2022; a.o.,), is intended to provide a unified account of these uses. In the HAT approach, a demonstrative, unlike a definite article (e.g., the), carries two restrictions; in one recent variant of this approach, namely Ahn (2022, Ling & Phil), the various uses of a demonstrative description are due to the different options to contribute the second restriction, including a deictic demonstration, an index, and a relative clause that adjoins to the demonstrative phrase. In this talk, I examine the interaction between demonstratives and relative clauses and show that current analyses along with the HAT approach could yield some undesirable predictions. Some amendments will be suggested to accurately capture the interpretation of a demonstrative description with a relative clause and at the same time avoid these predictions.

Causal dependence in actuality inferences

Prerna Nadathur

A range of complement-taking predicates give rise to surprising actuality inferences, in which a modally-embedded complement event is understood non-modally, as taking place in the evaluation world.  I argue that actuality inferences can be explained—and unified across predicate classes—on an approach in which the modality of participating predicates is analyzed in causal terms.  This talk focuses on an illuminating case study: enough and too predicates.

Hacquard (2005) observes that, like the ability modals at the heart of the puzzle (Bhatt 1999), enough/too predicates have aspect-sensitive actuality inferences.  Under imperfective marking, French enough predicates like (1a) are compatible with the non-actualization of their complements; their perfective counterparts (as in 1b) show the complement entailment pattern of implicative verbs like French réussir (‘succeed’, ‘manage’; 2).

(1) a. Juno était assez rapide pour gagner la course, mais elle n’a pas gagné.
Juno was-IMPF fast enough to win the race, but she did not win.
b. Juno a été assez rapide pour gagner la course, #mais elle n’a pas gagné.
Juno was-PFV fast enough to win the race, #but she did not win.
(2) Juno { réussissait / a réussi } à gagner la course, #mais elle n’a pas gagné.
Juno { managed-IMPF / managed-PFV } to win the race, #but she did not win.

Despite the contrast in (1)-(2), I argue that enough/too inferences are—semantically speaking—instances of implicativity.  I build on a causal account of implicative lexical semantics (Nadathur 2016, 2019) to show that enough/too actuality inferences arise just in case the compositional interaction between grammatical aspect, modal flavour, and the enough/too matrix adjective reproduces the semantic structure of an implicative: that is, where the matrix adjective denotes an actionable property which is causally involved in realizing the enough/too complement, and the perfective aspect induces an eventive interpretation of the matrix assertion.   Insofar as the implicative analysis explains the aspect-sensitivity of enough/too inferences, I suggest that it naturally extends to ability modals’ actuality inferences, when coupled with a causal approach to ability.

The logic of sequences

Cian Dorr and Matthew Mandelkern (NYU)

In the course of proving a tenability result about the probabilities of conditionals, van Fraassen (1976) introduced a semantics for conditionals based on sequences of worlds, representing a particularly simple special case of ordering semantics for conditionals. According to sequence semantics, ‘If p, then q’ is true at a sequence just in case either q is true at the first truncation of the sequence where p is true, or there is no truncation where p is true. This approach has become increasingly popular in recent years. However, its logic has never been explored. We axiomatize the logic of sequence semantics, showing that it is the result of adding two new axioms to Stalnaker’s logic C2: one which is prima facie attractive, and one which is complex and difficult to assess. We also show that when sequence models are generalized to allow transfinite sequences, the result is the logic that adds only the first (more attractive) axiom to C2.

Nothing is Logical

Maria Aloni

People often reason contrary to the prescriptions of classical logic. In the talk I will discuss some cases of divergence between everyday and logical-mathematical reasoning and propose that they are a consequence of a tendency in human cognition to neglect models which verify sentences by virtue of an empty configuration [neglect-zero tendency, Aloni 2022]. I will then introduce a bilateral state-based modal logic (BSML) which formally represents the neglect-zero tendency and can be used to rigorously study its impact on reasoning and interpretation. After discussing some of the applications, I will compare BSML with related systems (truthmaker semantics, possibility semantics, and inquisitive semantics) via translations into Modal Information Logic [van Benthem 2019].

Maria Aloni. Logic and conversation: The case of free choice, Semantics and Pragmatics, vol 15 (2022)
Johan van Benthem. Implicit and Explicit Stances in Logic, Journal of Philosophical Logic, vol 48, pages 571–601 (2019)

Modeling Linguistic Causation

Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal

This talk introduces a systematic way of analyzing the semantics of causative linguistic expressions, and of how natural languages express causal relationships. For this purpose, I will employ the Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) framework and demonstrate how this method offers a rigorous model-theoretic approach to examining the distinct semantics of causal expressions. This paper introduces formal logical definitions of different types of conditions using SEM networks, and illustrates how this proposal, along with its formal tools, can help to clarify the asymmetric entailment relationship among different causative constructions.

Relativized Exhaustivity: Mention-Some and Uniqueness

Yimei Xiang

Wh-questions with the modal verb can admit both mention-some (MS) and mention-all (MA) answers. This paper argues that we should treat MS as a grammatical phenomenon, primarily determined by the grammar of the wh-interrogative. I assume that MS and MA answers can be modeled using the same definition of answerhood (Fox 2013) and attribute the MS/MA ambiguity to structural variations within the question nucleus. The variations are: (i) the scope ambiguity of the higher-order wh-trace, and (ii) the absence/presence of an anti-exhaustification operator. However, treating MS answers as complete answers in this way contradicts the widely adopted analysis of uniqueness effects in questions of Dayal 1996, according to which the uniqueness effects of singular which-phrases arise from an exhaustivity presupposition, namely that a question must have a unique exhaustive true answer. To solve this dilemma, I propose that question interpretations presuppose ‘Relativized Exhaustivity’: roughly, the exhaustivity in questions is evaluated relative to the accessible worlds as opposed to the anchor/utterance world. Relativized Exhaustivity preserves the merits of Dayal’s exhaustivity presupposition while permitting MS; moreover, it explains the local-uniqueness effects in modalized singular wh-questions.

The speaker also has a relevant manuscript on Lingbuzz:

The Logic of Speech Acts: Sentential Force vs Utterance Force

Sarah Murray

Across languages, sentences are marked for sentence type, or sentential mood, e.g., declarative and interrogative. These sentence types are associated with speech acts: assertions and questions, respectively. However, sentential mood does not determine the force of an utterance of a sentence. We argue that the semantic contribution of sentential mood is a relation that constrains utterance force. This relation takes a proposition as an argument and uses it to affect a component of the context. The semantic constraint together with additional pragmatic factors produce utterance force.

This logic for speech acts involves a semantics for the three main sentence types found cross-linguistically (declarative, interrogative, imperative) as well as a distinction between speaker commitment and discourse reference. In addition to a semantics for sentential mood, this approach provides a framework for a range of phenomena, including evidentials, parentheticals, hedges, and “speech act modifiers”. We conclude by discussing the Linguistic Modification Thesis, the idea that linguistic material can only influence utterance force by influencing sentential force.

This talk is based on joint work with William Starr