In this book, Michela Ippolito proposes a compositional semantics for subjunctive (or would) conditionals in English that accounts for their felicity conditions and the constraints on the satisfaction of their presuppositions by capitalizing on the occurrence of past tense morphology in both antecedent and consequent clauses. Very little of the extensive literature on subjunctive conditionals tries to account for the meaning of these sentences compositionally or to relate this meaning to their linguistic form; this book fills that gap, connecting the different lines of research on conditionals. Ippolito’s proposal will be of interest both to linguists and to philosophers concerned with conditionals and modality more generally.
Ippolito reviews previous analyses of counterfactuals and subjunctive conditionals in the work of David Lewis, Robert Stalnaker, Angelika Kratzer, and others; considers the contrast between future simple past subjunctive conditionals and future past perfect subjunctive conditionals; presents a proposal for subjunctive conditionals that addresses puzzles left unsolved by previous proposals; reviews a number of presupposition triggers showing that they fit the pattern predicted by her proposal; and discusses an asymmetry between the past and the future among subjunctive conditionals, arguing that the best account of our linguistic intuitions must include an indeterministic view of the world.
About the Author
Michela Ippolito is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Toronto.