Is There a Uniform Explanation for Strawsonian Contrast Cases?
Strawson once observed that sentences containing non-referring definite descriptions tend to elicit different types of intuitive responses from language users. While some of these sentences elicit a sense of squeamishness, others elicit a robust sense of falsity. Strawson explained this type of response difference in terms of presupposition and topicality. In the last decades, Strawson’s approach has been often criticized on the ground that it cannot provide a uniform explanation for
all possible occurrences of non-referring definites. In this paper, I examine two recent Strawson-inspired projects and argue that they also fall short of providing a uniform explanation of the data. In the final section, I briefly delineate an alternative approach, which seems to have greater explanatory power than its rivals.
Beaver D., Roberts C., Simons M., Tonhauser J. (2017), "Questions under Discussion: Where Information Structure Meets Projective Content," Annual Review of Linguistics 3, 265-284. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-linguistics-011516-033952
Bezuidenhout A. (2016), "Presupposition Failure and the Assertive Enterprise," Topoi 35(1), 23-35.
Ebert Ch., Ebert C. (2010), "On Squeamishness of the Royal Kind" [in:] Language and Logos. Festschrift for Peter Staudacher on his 70th Birthday, T. Hanneforth, G. Fanselow https://doi.org/10.1524/9783050062365.149
Katz J. J. (1999), "On the General Character of Semantic Theory" [in:] Concepts: Core Readings, E. Margolis, S. Laurence (eds.), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 125-149.
Kertész A., Rákosi Cs. (2012), Data and Evidence in Linguistics: A Plausible Argumentation Model, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511920752
Kertész A., Rákosi Cs. (2014), "Introduction" [in:] The Evidential Basis of Linguistic Argumentation, A. Kertész, Cs. Rákosi (eds.), Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.153.01ker
Lasersohn P. (1993), "Existence Presuppositions and Background Knowledge," Journal of Semantics 10, 113-122.
Roberts C. (1996), "Information Structure in Discourse: Towards an Integrated Formal Theory of Pragmatics" [in:] OSU Working Papers in Linguistics. Vol. 49, J.-H. Yoon, A. Kathol (eds.), Columbus: Ohio State University, 91-136.
Salmon N. (1998), "Nonexistence", Noûs 32(3), 277-319. https://doi.org/10.1111/0029-4624.00101
Schoubye A. J. (2009), "Descriptions, Truth-Value Intuitions, and Questions," Linguistics and Philosophy 32, 583-617.
Schütze C. T. (1996), The Empirical Base of Linguistics: Grammaticality Judgments and Linguistic Methodology, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Stalnaker R. (1978), "Assertion," Syntax and Semantics 9, 315-332.
Stokke A. (2010), "Intention-Sensitive Semantics," Synthese 175(3), 383-404. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-009-9537-5
Strawson P. F. (1950), "On Referring," Mind 59(235), 320-344. https://doi.org/10.1093/mind/LIX.235.320
Strawson P. F. (1964), "Identifying Reference and Truth-Values," Theoria 30(2), 96-118. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-2567.1964.tb00404.x
Voltolini A. (2006), How Ficta Follow Fiction: A Syncretistic Account of Fictional Entities, Dordrecht: Springer.
von Fintel K. (2004), "Would You Believe It? The King of France Is Back! (Presuppositions and Truth-Value Intuitions)" [in:] Descriptions and Beyond, A. Bezuidenhout, M. Reimer (eds.), Oxford: Oxford University Press, 315-342.