Cool Logic

Jonathan Pesetsky (ILLC)

The present tense is fake

September 8th at 18:00, in F1.15

A Conspiracy Theory about Indicative and Subjunctive Conditionals Everything you’ve been told about tense is wrong. Not just wrong, but a lie. You know, like that cake was back in 2009 or whatever. Same thing for everything you’ve been told about conditionals. Lies. All of it. Seriously. But if you show up to room 1.15, ILLC, our very best friend Jonathan will tell you some truths to be forever memorized. Specifically, he will propose a solution to Mackay's Problem (Mackay 2015), which has been taken as a significant challenge for the past-as-modal approach to the semantics of indicative and subjunctive conditionals. Building on Leahy (2017), he will argue that present tense marking contributes a presupposition that there exists something of the context where the relevant proposition is true (where this thing can be a either time or a world), while the past tense carries no presupposition whatsoever. This proposal entails a pretty unusual looking theory of tense since it requires us to derive the temporal meaning of past as an implicature. However, he will argue that this theory can still capture basic desiderata.