Free choice permission and the counterfactuals of pragmatics

Linguistics and Philosophy 37 (4):275-290 (2014)
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This paper addresses a little puzzle with a surprisingly long pedigree and a surprisingly large wake: the puzzle of Free Choice Permission. I begin by presenting a popular sketch of a pragmatic solution to the puzzle, due to Kratzer and Shimoyama, which has received a good deal of discussion, endorsement and elaboration in recent work :535–590, 2006; Fox, in: Sauerland and Stateva Presupposition and implicature in compositional semantics, 2007; Geurts, Mind Lang 24:51–79, 2009; von Fintel, Central APA session on Deontic Modals, 2012). I then explain why the general form of the Kratzer and Shimoyama explanation is not extensionally adequate. This leaves us with two possibilities with regard to the original solution-sketch; either the suggested pragmatic route fails, or it succeeds in a particularly strange way: Free Choice permission is rendered a kind pragmatic illusion on the part of both speakers and hearers. Finally, I discuss some ramifications.
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Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases.Kahneman, Daniel; Slovic, Paul & Tversky, Amos (eds.)

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Semantic expressivism for epistemic modals.Hawke, Peter & Steinert-Threlkeld, Shane

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