Presupposition failure — A comedy of errors

Research paper by Jan van Eijck

Indexed on: 21 Apr '15Published on: 21 Apr '15Published in: Formal Aspects of Computing


Presuppositions of utterances are the pieces of information you convey with an utterance no matter whether your utterance is true or not. We first study presupposition in a very simple framework of updating propositional information, with examples of how presuppositions of complex propositional updates can be calculated. Next we move on to presuppositions and quantification, in the context of a dynamic version of predicate logic, suitably modified to allow for presupposition failure. In both the propositional and the quantificational case, presupposition failure can be viewed as error abortion of procedures. Thus, a dynamic assertion logic which describes the preconditions for error abortion is the suitable tool for analysing presupposition.