10: Scalar Implicatures: Exhaustivity and Gricean Reasoning

In: Questions in Dynamic Semantics
Benjamin Spector
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Chierchia (2002) presents a solution based on a recursive interpretation function which computes 'strengthened meanings' in tandem with the interpretation function that computes 'literal meanings. This chapter shows that both scalar implicatures and exhaustification of answers can be understood as the outcome of a pragmatic reasoning that is based on the Gricean maxims. It offers a precise formalization of the Gricean reasoning and shows that it is possible to predict the facts reviewed above by defining carefully what counts as an 'alternative answer' for a given answer to a certain question under discussion. The alternative set of any positive proposition is defined as the set of all positive propositions. The positive answers are predicted to be interpreted as exhaustive. The negative answers are not exhaustified, but nevertheless trigger some implieatures. The chapter concludes that that the facts regarding exhaustification can be directly derived from the Gricean reasoning.