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Title: The Limits to Debate
Subtitle: A Revised Theory of Semantic Presupposition
Written By: Noel Burton-Roberts
Series Title: Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 51

Exponents and critics of semantic presupposition have almost invariably
based their discussion on the (’Standard’) definition of presupposition
implied by Frege and Strawson. In this study Noel Burton-Roberts argues
convincingly against this definition, that leads it to a three-valued
semantics. He presents a very simple semantic definition which is weaker,
more general and leads to a semantics more easily interpreted as two-valued
with gaps. The author shows that a wide range of intuitive facts that
eluded the Standard definition follow directly from this (’Revised’)
definition itself: facts about the presuppositions of compound sentences
and modal sentences, about presuppositional conflict and about differences
in the logical status of simple sentences suffering from presupposition
failure. The book includes a detailed argument that an ambiguity of natural
language negation, generally assumed to be necessary to the defence of
semantic presupposition, is neither possible nor necessary in a
presuppositional semantics. Noel Burton-Roberts has made an authoritative
contribution to a debate which has involved philosophers and linguists for
many years. His command of the issues, his clarity of exposition and his
theoretical insight may well serve to change the boundaries of that debate.

Publication Year: 2009
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
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Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
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Format: Paperback
ISBN: 052110193X
ISBN-13: 9780521101936
Prices: U.K. £ 19.99
U.S. $ 36.99