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Uniqueness, Epistemic Modals and Dynamic Pronominal Anaphora

Pellegrini, Riccardo Enrico; (2021) Uniqueness, Epistemic Modals and Dynamic Pronominal Anaphora. Masters thesis (M.Phil.Stud), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

While dynamic semantics successfully captures presupposition mechanisms and some uses of anaphoric pronouns, the theory has some lacunas with regards to anaphoric pronouns that seem to refer to a unique individual as well as ones that are preceded by epistemic modals. The general goal of this dissertation is to fill these lacunas and develop an improved dynamic model. After delivering a general introduction to dynamic semantics, we will tackle the first issue of the dynamic model. More specifically, we will address the criticism put forward by philosophers like Robert van Rooij, which deem dynamic predictions for certain uses of indefinite-linked pronominal anaphora to be unsatisfactory. To put it simply, they claim that in some cases anaphoric pronouns seem to refer to unique individuals, yet dynamic semantics does not represent them in that way. In order to solve the problem concerning uniqueness, I propose to interpret certain uses of indefinite-linked pronominal anaphora, that do not require uniqueness constraints, as being subordinated under a covert epistemic must-operator. This modification allows us to syntactically differentiate between cases that require uniqueness constraints and ones that do not. Due to this syntactic difference, I manage to accurately introduce uniqueness constraints into the semantics so that they solely target cases that require them and, therefore, solve the problem. The second lacuna that will be addressed relates to epistemic modals. In dynamic semantics, might- and must-claims do not license pronominal anaphora. However, intuitively, a pronominal anaphora that has a must-claim or a might-claim as its antecedent utterance is completely felicitous. Hence, I attempt to solve this problematic interpretation of indefinite-linked pronominal anaphoras that are subordinated under an epistemic modal. The dynamic interpretation of must-claims and might-claims will be scrutinized and revised, in order to provide an interpretation that licenses pronominal anaphora by allowing modal claims to add discourse referents to the domain of the context.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Qualification: M.Phil.Stud
Title: Uniqueness, Epistemic Modals and Dynamic Pronominal Anaphora
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10119126
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