Reporting conditionals with modals

Sztencel, Magdalena and Duffy, Sarah E. (2018) Reporting conditionals with modals. In: Capone, A., Garcia-Carpintero, M. and Falzone, A., (eds.) Indirect Reports and Pragmatics in the World Languages. Perspectives in Pragmatics, Philosophy & Psychology . Springer, pp. 201-226

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This paper investigates whether modalised indirect reports of conditionals are sensitive to the necessity of p for q in cases where necessity is not overtly represented in a conditional, as in ‘if p, q’ formulations. We report on two online experiments into the relation between (i) perceived necessity or sufficiency of the truth of a conditional antecedent for the truth of the consequent, and (ii) the use of necessity or possibility modals (have to, should, could) in an indirect report of an ‘if p, q’ conditional. In Experiment 1, the ‘necessity/sufficiency of p for q’ variable was manipulated by contextually altering the number of alternative antecedents (e.g. Cummins et al. 1991; Thompson 1994; Politzer 2003). We found that the modals used in indirect reports systematically co-vary with the number of alternative antecedents, suggesting that modalised indirect reports of ‘if p, q’ conditionals may be a diagnostic for biconditional versus material interpretations. Experiment 2 found that manipulating the believability of conditionals used in Experiment 1 has no reliable effect on the results. The significance of this result for the theory of conditionals is also discussed.

Item Type: Book Section
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-78771-8
Related URLs:
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
School/Department: School of Languages & Linguistics
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/2761

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