SOPhiA 2022

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Gendered Personal Pronouns as Presupposition Triggers
(Philosophy of Language, English)

A Cooper (1983) proposed that gendered pronouns trigger presuppositions about the referent_s gender. This idea was further popularised in linguistics by Heim and Kratzer (1998) and has later found its way into philosophy (Dembroff & Wodak 2018). Cooper (1983) believes that while the anaphoric pronouns trigger presuppositions in a typical way, the presuppositions triggered by deictic pronouns differ from those triggered by anaphoric pronouns. In the case of deictic pronouns the presuppositions about the referent_s gender are indexical meaning that they have to be satisfied in the actual world. Yanovich (2010) argues that all gendered pronouns (deictic, anaphoric, or bound) trigger indexical presuppositions, meaning that gendered pronouns trigger presuppositions in a different way that the typical examples of presupposition triggers. In our talk, we want to agree with Yanovich, and put forward the hypothesis that gendered personal pronouns trigger presuppositions about the referent__s gender, in opposition to the claim that the use of a gendered pronoun entails information about the referent__s gender. We claim that in both cases of gendered pronoun usage -- anaphoric and deictic -- its processing relies vastly on context cues, and that virtually the only difference between the two uses is what kind of context is at play. The argument for this claim is twofold. First, we present what Strawson called the __squeamishness__ effect of false presuppositions (Strawson 1950) and appeal to the audience__s intuitions concerning the use of a wrong gendered pronoun in a context. Second, we claim that our approach, apart from its intuitive appeal and theoretical strength, can also serve as a starting point for an analysis of different manifestations of grammatical gender in natural language. References : Cooper, R (1983). Quantification and Syntactic Theory. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing. Dembroff, R., & Wodak, D. (2018). He/she/they/ze. Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy, 5. Heim, I.& Kratzer, A (1998). Semantics in Generative Grammar. Malden: Blackwell. Schwarz, F. (2016b). Experimental work in presupposition and presupposition projection. Annual review of linguistics, 2, 273-292. Strawson, P. F. (1950). On referring. Mind, 59(235), 320-344. Yanovich, I. (2010). On the Nature and Formal Analysis of Indexical Presuppositions. New Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence, Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 6284, 272__291.

Time: 14:00-14:30, 09. September 2022 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.007

Antonina Jamrozik 
(University of Warsaw , Poland)

Testability and Meaning deco