Testing the influence of QUDs on the occurrence of Conditional Perfection
Keywords:conditional perfection, indicative conditionals, pragmatics, question under discussion, exhaustivity, experimental
In natural language conversations, speakers often communicate ‘if and only if’ when they say ‘if’. The reasons why in some circumstances, yet not all, conditionals receive a biconditional interpretation remain under investigation. Von Fintel (2001) proposed an account where the interpretation of a conditional (“if p, then q”) is predicted to depend on the focus of the conversation which may either lie on the conditions that make the consequent, q, true or on the consequences following when the antecedent, p, is true. To test this account, we present two novel behavioral experiments with non-text based stimuli that take advantage of participants’ intuitive understanding of physics. We find some supporting evidence for the tested account that is not conclusive but suggests that other aspects, like the nature of potential alternative causes for the consequent to become true (e.g., with or w/o the influence of an external variable), also play a role for the interpretation of the conditional.