Existential Import [chapter]

Bart Geurts
2008 Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy  
Notwithstanding various attempts at explaining existential import in non-presuppositional terms, it is argued that the Strawsonian view remains the best: existential import is a matter of presupposition. More accurately: it is argued that Strawson's mature view, as expressed in his paper of 1964, provides the best account of speakers' intuitions. This entails that the semantic approach to presupposition, associated with Strawson's earlier work, goes by the board. It also entails that the
more » ... ils that the presuppositional requirements of an expression are never purely existential in nature. A strong quantifier does not merely presuppose that its domain is non-empty; rather, the purpose of its presupposition is to recover a suitable domain from the context. 1 Although existential there-sentences will have an important supporting role in this paper, I will not propose an analysis of this construction. I will presuppose that the correct analysis is pragmatic rather than semantic in nature, but whether it is in terms of presupposition, novelty, topicality, or something else, is immaterial (see Hannay (1985) and Comorovski (1995) for discussion of some of the issues). It is relevant to my purposes that there-sentences tend not to admit presuppositional noun phrases, but I don't claim that this is invariably the case, let alone by definition. 2 To say that a mere accent that will do the trick is probably a simplification. See Jäger (1999) for discussion.
doi:10.1007/978-1-4020-6197-4_9 fatcat:4xjscch74jh6vpocln4mvxj2si