Causal necessity, causal sufficiency, and the implications of causative verbs
2020-06-01, Nadathur, Prerna, Lauer, Sven
Against past analyses, we propose that natural language causatives do not universally encode a single, unanalyzable bringing about meaning like Dowty’s (1979) CAUSE, but instead draw on an inventory of contrasting causal dependency relations. To illustrate this claim, we focus on the English causative verbs make and cause. We point out a number of differences in their inferential profiles, and argue that these follow from the fact that cause asserts a relation of causal necessity between a cause and its stated effect, while make asserts causal sufficiency. We distinguish these notions from their alethic counterparts: while causal necessity is similar to the notion of counterfactual necessity (Lewis 1973), causal sufficiency has not figured in previous analyses of causal language. We show that analyzing make as a sufficiency causative not only accounts for the similarities and differences between its distribution and that of cause, but also enables us to explain previously puzzling inferences associated with the use of make as opposed to other periphrastic causatives.
Quantified indicative conditionals and the relative reading of most
2019, Lauer, Sven, Nadathur, Prerna
Kratzer (in press) notes a curious ‘reverse’ reading for certain quantified conditionals with most. The existence of this reading is problematic for accounts that aim at compositionally deriving the perceived interpretation of quantified conditionals, especially for those that take if-clauses to semantically restrict the domain of nominal quantifiers. We show how the reverse reading can be derived on such a restrictor account, as an instance of the relative reading of most. The derivation closely parallels a recent account of the ‘reverse proportional’ reading of many (Romero, 2015). Our account is entirely compositional and draws on independently motivated assumptions about the interpretation of most.