Factivity, presupposition projection, and the role of discrete knowlege in gradient inference judgments
Julian Grove, Aaron Steven White
March 2024

We investigate whether the factive presuppositions associated with some clause-embedding predicates are fundamentally discrete in nature - as classically assumed - or fundamentally gradient - as recently proposed (Tonhauser, Beaver, and Degen 2018). To carry out this investigation, we develop statistical models of presupposition projection that implement these two hypotheses, fit these models to existing inference judgment data aimed at measuring factive presuppositions (Degen and Tonhauser 2021), and compare the models' fits to the data using standard statistical model comparison metrics. We find that models implementing the hypothesis that presupposition projection is fundamentally discrete fit the data better than models implementing the hypothesis that it is fundamentally gradient. To evaluate the robustness of this finding, we collect three additional datasets: a replication of the original dataset, as well as two datasets that modify the methodology of the original. Across the three datasets, we again find that models implementing the discreteness hypothesis fit the data better than models implementing the gradience hypothesis. We argue that these results favor an account on which factive presuppositions are fundamentally discrete in nature, and we discuss how this discreteness might be cashed out within both classical semantic accounts of factive predicates as well as accounts of presupposition projection that tie it to the question under discussion.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007450
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted
keywords: factivity, presupposition projection, probabilistic semantics, monads, semantics
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