What ‘must’ adds

Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (3):225-266 (2019)
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There is a difference between the conditions in which one can felicitously use a ‘must’-claim like and those in which one can use the corresponding claim without the ‘must’, as in 'It must be raining out' versus 'It is raining out. It is difficult to pin down just what this difference amounts to. And it is difficult to account for this difference, since assertions of 'Must p' and assertions of p alone seem to have the same basic goal: namely, communicating that p is true. In this paper I give a new account of the conversational role of ‘must’. I begin by arguing that a ‘must’-claim is felicitous only if there is a shared argument for the proposition it embeds. I then argue that this generalization, which I call Support, can explain the more familiar generalization that ‘must’-claims are felicitous only if the speaker’s evidence for them is in some sense indirect. Finally, I propose a pragmatic derivation of Support as a manner implicature.

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Matthew Mandelkern
New York University


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