Simplification is not Scalar Strengthening

Paolo Santorio


We show that Simplification of Disjunctive antecedents is not a scalar inference. The argument exploits information-sensitive modals, like epistemic "probably" and deliberative "ought". When items of this sort are the main modal of a conditional, we can have that: (i) If A or B, Mod C is true; (ii) the basic meaning computed via classical semantics for conditionals and disjunction is false. This combination is impossible on any scalar account of Simplification: scalar inferences are strengthenings, hence the output of scalar inferences must entail the basic meaning of a sentence. We suggest an account of Simplification based on alternative semantics, and show how this account can be made compatible with old and new counterexamples to Simplification.

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