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A dialectical approach to presupposition

Fabrizio Macagno
From the journal Intercultural Pragmatics

Abstract

This paper advances an approach to presupposition rooted in the concept of commitment, a dialectical notion weaker than truth and belief. It investigates ancient medieval dialectical theories and develops the insights thereof for analyzing how presuppositions are evaluated and why a proposition is presupposed. In particular, at a pragmatic level, presuppositions are reconstructed as the conclusions of implicit arguments from presumptive reasoning, grounded on presumptions of different type and nature. A false (or rather unaccepted) presupposition can be thus represented as the outcome of a conflict of presumptions – the ones used by the speaker and the ones commonly accepted or backed by evidence. From an interpretative perspective, this defaulted presumptive reasoning can be explained by comparing the available presumptions and repaired by replacing the weaker and unacceptable ones.

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Published Online: 2018-4-27
Published in Print: 2018-4-25

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