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Subjunctive ConditionalsA Linguistic Analysis$
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Michela Ippolito

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780262019484

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262019484.001.0001

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A Compositional Analysis

A Compositional Analysis

(p.53) 3 A Compositional Analysis
Subjunctive Conditionals

Michela Ippolito

The MIT Press

This chapter presents an approach for analyzing subjunctive conditionals and shows how it solves the puzzles identified in Chapter 2. It accounts for the following two observations. First, simple past subjunctive conditionals are felicitous only if the event or state talked about in the antecedent has not already occurred. This is called the time asymmetry observation. Second, even in cases that allow the antecedent of a simple past subjunctive conditional to be counterfactual, the antecedent’s presuppositions cannot be counterfactual; if the antecedent’s presuppositions are counterfactual, a past perfect subjunctive conditional must be used. This is called the presupposition asymmetry observation. It is argued that these facts follow from the temporal structure that embeds a so-called bare conditional structure. This is what determines the selection of the relevant set(s) of possible worlds required for the evaluation of the modal claim and the satisfaction of any presuppositions.

Keywords:   simple past subjunctive conditionals, past perfect subjunctive conditionals, time asymmetry, counterfactuals, presuppositions, bare conditional

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