Future and Negation
August 13, 2022

Future and Negation


In this article, we take into consideration two semantics of the future tense: linearism, according to which future-tense sentences are interpreted on a single history, and universalism, according to which they are evaluated by universally quantifying on the plurality of future histories that radiate from the present instant. Specifically, we focus on a objection advanced against universalism: if universalism were correct semantics of will, negated future-tense sentences of natural language should have two readings, depending on the scope of negation with respect to the universal quantifier on histories. However, since natural language does not show this difference, one may conclude that there is no universal quantifier in the interpretation of these sentences. We show that this conclusion is premature. First, will has clear scope interactions with indefinite nouns phrases, contrary to what linearism predicts. Second, it is possible to extend the treatment of vague predicates as partial predicates to will: Since partial predicates have no scope interactions with negation, this can account for the scopelessness of will. The partiality of truth conditions is not restricted to will but also pertains to counterfactuals and generics and probably is part of a general tendency to maximize contraries.

August 13, 2022 at 07:30AM

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