Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Wiley-Blackwell Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info


New from Oxford University Press!

ad

Words in Time and Place: Exploring Language Through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary

By David Crystal

Offers a unique view of the English language and its development, and includes witty commentary and anecdotes along the way.


New from Cambridge University Press!

ad

Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases

By Peter Mark Roget

This book "supplies a vocabulary of English words and idiomatic phrases 'arranged … according to the ideas which they express'. The thesaurus, continually expanded and updated, has always remained in print, but this reissued first edition shows the impressive breadth of Roget's own knowledge and interests."


New from Brill!

ad

The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek

By Franco Montanari

Coming soon: The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek by Franco Montanari is the most comprehensive dictionary for Ancient Greek to English for the 21st Century. Order your copy now!


Book Information

   
Sun Image

Title: "A Critical Examination of Frege's Theory of Presupposition
Written By: Scott Soames
Series Title: MIT Ph.D. thesis 1976
Description:

Abstract

This thesis consists of two separate but related studies on the notion of presupposition as it occurs in philosophy and linguistics. In the first study I examine the theory of logical presupposition found in the work of Gottlob Frege. In the second I examine the theories of
Deirdre Wilson and Lauri Karttunen. These theorists reject the notion of logical presupposition in favor of pragmatic and non-logical conceptions. There are important problems with all three theories. Frege's theory fails to account for the presupposition of compound sentences. Wilsons's and Karttunen's fail to demonstrate conclusively that the presupposition of simple sentences and their negations are non-logical.


Frege's theory of presupposition:

Frege's theory of presupposition is a consequence of his more general semantic theory. In Part 1 I show how two different notions of presupposition can be reconstructed from his semantics; one applies directly to sentences, and the other applies directly to thoughts. This distinction is used to clarify Frege's discussion of presupposition in "On Sense and Reference".

In Part 2 I maintain that a speaker who utters a sentence with a false presupposition typically succeeds in making a statement. I argue against those who interpret Frege as denying this and show how a proper understanding of his semantics eliminates one of the main problems that have led theorists to erronenous interpretations.

In Part 3 I examine the relationship between negation and presupposition. I show that Frege's account of internal negation is inadequate and must be supplemented with an account of external negation. However, when external negation is introduced, his theory of logical presupposition conflicts with his theory of truth. Finally, I show that Frege's theory makes incorrect predictions about the presuppositions of compound sentences. This undermines his view that sentences are special kinds of "proper names".

In the essay on Frege I also consider certain issues that apply to any theory of logical presupposition. I argue that logical presupposition in natural languages should not be defined in terms of what is entailed by a sentence and its negation. I also argue that redundancy theories of truth and falsity conflict with theories of logical presupposition.


Two theories of non-logical presupposition

In the second essay I investigate Wilson's and Karttunen's theories of non-logical presupposition. These theorists hold the following two theses:
A. Theories of natural languages require an account of non-logical presupposition.
B. The notion of logical presupposition should be eliminated from theories of natural languages. (A) is correct, but the arguments for (B) are not conclusive.

In Part 1 of this essay I present Karttunen's notion of presupposition that applies to conjunctions, disjunctions, and conditionals. In Part
2 I argue that this notion is non-logical, but that this result is compatible with restricted theories of logical presupposition based on simple sentences and their negations. In Part 3 I examine the importance of negation for such theories and evaluate Wilson's argument that negative sentences do not bear logical presupposition.
Parts 4 and 5 are concerned with the pragmatic accounts of Wilson and
Karttunen. In Part 4 I demonstrate that Wilson's theory is incorrect and argue that it cannot be repaired. In Part 5 I indicate several difficulties with Karttunen's view and propose modifications to resolve them.

Publication Year: 1976
Publisher: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics
Review: Read the review
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Pragmatics
Issue: All announcements sent out by The LINGUIST List are emailed to our subscribers and archived with the Library of Congress.
Click here to see the original emailed issue.

Versions:
Format: ----
ISBN: N/A
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: N/A
Prices: $12