'Maximize Presupposition!' and Informationally Encapsulated Implicatures

  • Raj Singh


Heim’s (1991) Maximize Presupposition! (henceforth MP) states, roughly, that given two contextually equivalent alternatives, speakers must use that alternative whose presuppositions are stronger and happen to be met in the context of use. Given our common knowledge that there is exactly one sun, for example, the principle accounts for why # A sun is shining is such an odd sentence; the speaker should have used The sun is shining instead. The principle is technically sound, and fully predictive. The puzzle facing us is a conceptual one: why should language use be constrained by such a principle? The goal of this paper is to explore the extent to which MP might be reduced to more general principles. More specifically, my goal is to explore the extent to which MP might be reducible to the theory of scalar implicature. Heim (1991) suggested a way to derive MP effects from implicature reasoning, but concluded that the contextdependence of this reasoning prevented the reduction from succeeding. In response to this, Magri (To Appear) noted that if the system that computes implicatures can be prevented from accessing contextual information, Heim’s derivation can go through unencumbered. However, even with modularity assumptions in place, Magri argued (from new data that he discovered) that the reduction is not possible, concluding that a separate principle will be needed. I will attempt to defend the reduction against these objections.
How to Cite
Singh, R. (2019). ’Maximize Presupposition!’ and Informationally Encapsulated Implicatures. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 13(2), 513-526. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2009.v13i2.569