Circumstantial and Temporal Dependence in Counterfactual Modals
“Counterfactual” readings of might/could have were previously analyzed using metaphysical modal bases. This paper presents examples and scenarios where the assumptions of such a branching-time semantics are not met, because there are facts at the base world that exclude the complement of the modal becoming true. Additional arguments show that counterfactual readings are context-dependent. These data motivate a semantics using a circumstantial (or factual) modal base, which refers to context-dependent facts about a world and time. The analysis is formulated in a version of the premise semantics for modality.
Final pre-publication version of a paper to appear in Natural Language Semantics.
metaphysical modality; circumstantial modality; premise semantics; interactions between tense and modality; branching time; natural language semantics
Earlier version circulated on Semantics Archive, http://semanticsarchive.net/Archive/2NhNGNlZ/, 15-Jun-2008.