Implicit Causality & Perspective

Implicit Causality (IC) is a term used to refer to biases in the resolution of ambiguous pronouns associated with the semantics of certain verbs. For example, while impress in (1a) is associated with a subject bias, adore shows an object bias in (1b). In this collaborative project with Isabelle Charnavel and Brian Dillon, we are investigating the influence of perspective on these biases as it is encoded in sentence connectives. We assume that the causal relation expressed by a causal connective like because has to be anchored to an implicit judge, the perspective-holder. This generates predictions we are currently testing, for instance on a correlation between the syntax of sentence connectives and IC biases, as well as the relation between pronouns and epithets, which have been argued to be inherently perspectival.

(1a) Emma impresses Lisa because she is zally. (she = Emma)
(1b) Emma adores Lisa because she is zally. (she = Lisa)