Counterfactual attitude contents and the semantics of plurals in belief contexts

  • Nina Haslinger
  • Viola Schmitt

Abstract

Indefinites in the complement clause of believe may participate in cumulative relations with a plural attitude subject, even under an intensional reading (Schmitt 2020; see also Pasternak 2018). Schmitt (2020) provides a compositional semantics for such constructions, where indefinites introduce pluralities of partial individual concepts. Crucially, however, such pluralities can only be formed if, intuitively, the concepts are ‘distinct enough’ (Haslinger and Schmitt to appear). We here implement this ‘distinctness constraint’ compositionally, combining Schmitt’s (2020) ideas with a new proposal concerning the semantics of plural indefinites: We argue that the latter introduce a distinctness requirement that appeals to the attitude subjects’ counterfactual beliefs – a requirement that is visible in cumulative belief sentences, but is trivialized (and thus unnoticeable) in extensional contexts. To compose our new DP-denotations with other material in the sentence, we use a version of Yalcin’s (2007) ‘domain semantics’.
Published
2021-09-16
How to Cite
Haslinger, N., & Schmitt, V. (2021). Counterfactual attitude contents and the semantics of plurals in belief contexts. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 25, 394-411. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2021.v25i0.944