Negative Free Choice
Paul Marty, Jacopo Romoli, Yasutada Sudo, Richard Breheny
October 2021

Free Choice (FC) is an inference arising from the interaction between existential modals and disjunction. For instance, a sentence of the form permitted(A or B) gives rise to the inference ♦A ∧ ♦B. Many competing theories of FC have been proposed but they can be classified into two main groups: one group derives FC as an entailment, while the other derives it as an implicature. By contrast, Negative Free Choice (NFC), the corresponding inference from negated univer- sal modals embedding conjunction, e.g., not(required(A and B)) to ¬􏰄A ∧ ¬􏰄B, has been discussed much less, and its existence has even been questioned in the recent literature. This paper reports on three experiments whose results provide clear evidence that NFC exists as an inference, but also indicate that NFC is far less robust than FC. Both the entailment and implicature approaches to FC have versions that can accommodate NFC, but we argue that the experimental results suggest that NFC is not an entailment but an implicature. This leaves us with two theoretical possibilities: the uniform approach that derives both FC and NFC as implicatures, and the hybrid approach that derives FC as an entailment and NFC as an implicature. We argue that the observed difference between FC and NFC is straightforwardly explained under the hybrid approach while it poses a challenge for the uniform approach. In particular, ideas have been put forward under the implicature approach to FC in order to explain why FC is generally a very robust inference, unlike other implicatures, but we point out that they predict NFC to be as robust, contrary to facts. We end with a brief discussion of the options we see for the implicature approach and their further consequences.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005474
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Semantics & Pragmatics Volume 14, Article 13, 2021
keywords: negative free choice, free choice, implicatures, semantics
previous versions: v1 [September 2020]
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