Infelicitous Cancellation: The Explicit Cancellability Test for Conversational Implicature Revisited

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (3):1-10 (2015)
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Abstract

This paper questions the adequacy of the explicit cancellability test for conversational implicature as it is commonly understood. The standard way of understanding this test relies on two assumptions: first, that that one can test whether a certain content is conversationally implicated, by checking whether that content is cancellable, and second, that a cancellation is successful only if it results in a felicitous utterance. While I accept the first of these assumptions, I reject the second one. I argue that a cancellation can succeed even if it results in an infelicitous utterance, and that unless we take this possibility into account we run the risk of misdiagnosing philosophically significant cases.

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Jonas Åkerman
Stockholm University

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