The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LFRG 10/23 - Matt Mandelkern

Who: Matt Mandelkern (MIT)
When: Friday, October 23, 2-3:30pm
Where: 32-D461
Title: A Note on the Architecture of Semantic Presupposition

The Proviso Problem is the problem of accounting for the discrepancy between the predictions of nearly every major theory of semantic presupposition about what is semantically presupposed by conditionals, disjunctions, and conjunctions, versus observations about what speakers of certain sentences are felt to be presupposing. I argue that the Proviso Problem is a more serious problem than has been recognized in much of the current literature. After briefly describing the problem and a set of standard responses to the problem, I give a number of examples which, I argue, the standard responses are unable to account for. I argue that not only are the details of those responses inadequate, but so is the more general theoretical architecture that they instantiate. I conclude by briefly exploring alternate approaches to presupposition that avoid this problem.