Brian Leahy (Department of Linguistics, University of Konstanz)
Counterfactual Antecedent Falsity and the Epistemic Sensitivity of Counterfactuals
Why do utterances of counterfactual conditionals typically, but not universally, convey the message that their antecedents are false? I demonstrate that two common theoretical commitments--commitment to the existence of scalar implicature and of informative presupposition--can be supplemented with an independently motivated theory of the presuppositions of competing conditional alternatives to jointly predict this information when and only when it appears. The view works best if indicative and counterfactual conditionals have a closely related semantics, so we conclude by undermining two familiar arguments for a nonunified semantics of indicative and counterfactual conditionals.