Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

Learning From Presupposition

Date: 12 February 2020

Time: 15:00

Place: Seminari de Filosofia UB

Abstract

Strawson (1950) famously distinguishes what a speaker presupposes from what she asserts in uttering a sentence like ‘The present King of France is bald’. I defend a claim about presupposition’s epistemic significance, namely that presupposition can provide a distinctive testimony-based way for an audience to learn about the world. My argument has three parts. I first bring out presupposition’s distinctive epistemic profile by showing that an audience can learn from a speaker’s presuppositions even when she regards a speaker’s assertion as resting upon a false presupposition. I then use that result to argue that presupposition provides a distinctive way for an audience to learn about the world. Finally, I motivate the view that when an audience learns from a speaker’s presuppositions in this way, she thereby acquires a testimony-based belief.