Causality and Tense - two temporal structure builders

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    Abstract

    By force of causes precede effects, causality contributes to the temporal meaning of discourse. In case of semantic causal relations, this contribution is straightforward, but in case of epistemic causal relations, it is not. In order to gain insight into the semantics of epistemic causal relations, paradoxical cases are analyzed of text fragments in which temporal and causal meaning seem to be irreconcilable. A solution is proposed consisting of several parts: First, an analysis of epistemic causal coherence relations, in which the effect sentence is argued to be a (covert) belief sentence. Secondly, a method for deriving (epistemic) causal coherence relations. And thirdly, a format for representing temporal meaning in which contributions of tense and causality can be reconciled. Finally, it is argued that understanding epistemically causally connected sequences (or: argumentation) is not equal to being persuaded to believing them. The difference is shown to be expressible in the representation format proposed.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)307-337
    Number of pages31
    JournalJournal of semantics
    Volume22
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2005

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