Presuppositions and Anaphors in Attitude Contexts

Author: Geurts, B.

Source: Linguistics and Philosophy, Volume 21, Number 6, December 1998 , pp. 545-601(57)

Publisher: Springer

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This paper consists of two main parts and a coda. In the first part I present the `binding theory' of presupposition projection, which is the framework that I adopt in this paper (Section 1.1). I outline the main problems that arise in the interplay between presuppositions and anaphors on the one hand and attitude reports on the other (Section 1.2), and discuss Heim's theory of presuppositions in attitude contexts (Section 1.3).

In the second part of the paper I present my own proposal. To begin with, I define an extension of DRT in which attitude reports can be represented (Sections 2.1–2.2). I then argue that the verb believe triggers a certain presupposition and that, given the binding theory, this presupposition determines the projection behaviour of the verb (Section 2.3). This analysis yields predictions which are incomplete in the sense that they do not fully account for speakers' intuitions about presuppositions and anaphors in belief contexts. In Section 2.4 I suggest that this is as it should be because we may assume on independent grounds that there is a class of plausibility inferences which complement the predictions of the presupposition theory. Finally, the analysis is extended to the verb want (Section 2.5).

The paper concludes with a brief discussion of related phenomena in other domains: modals, quantifiers, and non-declarative speech acts (Section 3).

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: University of Osnabrück, FB 7, 49069 Osnabrück, Germany, E-mail:

Publication date: December 1, 1998

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