Aldo Frigerio


The universalist semantics of the future and scope ambiguities with negation


In this paper, I distinguish two possible families of semantics of the open future: Linearism, according to which future tense sentences are evaluated with respect to a unique possible future history, and Universalism, according to which future tense sentences are evaluated universally quantifying on the histories passing through the moment of evaluation. An argument in favour of Linearism is based on the fact that negated future tense sentences do not seem to take scope with respect to negation. I defend Universalism against this argument by showing that this phenomenon characterises many other linguistic constructions: counterfactuals, vague predicates, generics, plural definite descriptions, and many modals. A linearist semantic is plausible for some of them, like counterfactuals but not for all of them. My main thesis is that, their considerable differences aside, these constructions have something in common: they are true when the predicate applies to the members of a set, false when the predicate does not apply to the members of the set and indeterminate in the intermediate cases. When negation interacts with such constructions tends to take the narrow scope reading only. I review two types of explanations for this behaviour, one semantic and the other pragmatic.

Date / Time / Place

June 21st / 10:10 / Aula 0A