On Sun, 28 Apr 2019, 18:19 Mike S., <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> On Sat, Apr 27, 2019 at 8:51 PM And Rosta <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> > "People WILL smoke" was intended as an example of the purely volitional:
> > "He WILL smoke in the bedroom, even though I always ask him not to".
> > Perhaps that has been lost from the lects of English you are familiar
> with?
> >
> They are both perfectly acceptable sentences for which I could easily
> imagine a context.  But volition is not a part of the truth-conditions of
> these sentence for me, but rather a very likely surmise.

(The key
> difference is that the sentence wouldn't be false (however misleading it
> might be) if "he" turned out to be coerced into smoking against his
> volition, or turned out to be some sort of unthinking robot or zombie under
> remote control, but it *would* be false if he failed to smoke under the
> presupposed conditions given his favorite tobacco and the proper
> opportunity.)  Moreover, the surmise of volition seems no more or less
> salient or likely to be correct to me with "People DO smoke" and "People
> DID smoke" than with "People WILL smoke".  In these examples, when you
> emphasize "will", I hear "This *will* happen", not "This will
> *volitionally* happen".

I agree now that volitionality does not inhere in the WILL construction --
which was the key point at issue. But the mechanism underlying the surmise
ot volition is, I think, more than a pragmatic inference. There is a
construction that means the subject meaning is responsible for the
predication meaning: some lexemes, such as OBTAIN, require this
construction, some, such as RECEIVE, forbid it and some, as with GET, are
compatible with it but don't require it. The gloss 'deliberately' often
seems apt for it, when the subject is sapient. While 'gnomic' WILL doesn't
require a sapient subject, it does seem that it sometimes (like GET) or
always (like OBTAIN) requires a responsible subject: it's easy to find
examples of existential _there_ subjects with ordinary future WILL, but
harder to find examples with 'gnomic'. Existential _there_ is incompatible
with the responsible subject construction. So the subject of gnomic WILL is
typically or always responsible, and responsible sapients favour a gloss of
'deliberately', and thus is where the volitionality comes from.

> I would be surprised to learn that we have importantly different ideas
> about what exactly constitutes the truth conditions of those two sentences,
> but maybe we do.
> > It is perhaps clearer when negated -- "She won't open the door" = "She
> > insists on not opening the door" = "She refuses to open the door". Note
> the
> > difference in scope relative to negation in comparison to future WILL --
> > "There won't be an election this year" = "It is not the case that in
> future
> > there is an election this year".
> We did not have negated examples yesterday.  But first:
> > 'Volitional' is perhaps inapt, since we
> > can also have "The sink WILL keep getting blocked, even though I clean it
> > regularly", so should better be seen as what you called 'gnomic',
> involving
> > quantification over not just future possible worlds, and the
> volitionality
> > enters the picture when this construction coincides with a construction
> > whose meaning is that the subject is responsible for the predicate being
> > the case.
> If what you meant by "volitional" pertains to uses of "will" that lack a
> straightforward absolute-future meaning and involve quantification over
> non-specific events or possible worlds, then I am in much closer agreement
> with you than it first appeared to me.  I just think something like
> "gnomic" is apter.
> It seems to me now though, even in gnomic uses, the futurity marked by
> "will" is preserved albeit relativized. (And it's hard to argue futurity is
> lost because everything in time is in the future of some earlier time!)  In
> some cases we can guess the condition after which the such-and-such WILL
> happen:
> - A stone will roll downhill, not uphill [after you dislodge it].
> - People WILL smoke [after you tell them not to].
> - She won't open the door [after being asked to].
> (The last case which is negated was interesting to me because at first
> glance, it looked like a true volitional.  At second glance, however, I
> think it works like the others.)
> In other cases, we don't know what the condition is, or it's very general:
> - Birds of a feather will flock together [after any point in time that you
> have birds].
> Non-temporal futures are presumably sarcastic or metaphoric, or are perhaps
> used simply to emphasize the unchanging nature of a situation:
> - Two plus two will equal four.

Thinking about the similarity of "leaves do keep clogging the gutters" and
"leaves WILL keep clogging the gutters", it seems to me that the gnomic
WILL involves quantification over potential situations that include the
(relative) present situation; the existential quantificational counterpart
would be CAN, "leaves can keep clogging the gutters".

> > (I am somewhat embarrassed at having got into this discussion,
> > for working on modals, including reading adequately on them, has for some
> > years been high on my to-do list but not yet accomplished; so I ought to
> > keep shtoom on this topic until competent to speak of it.)
> >
> No need to feel that way.  For my part, your posts have helped me think
> about the issues.

As Alex recently demonstrated on the cardinal directions thread, discussion
is typically more effective if you seek expertise, e.g. by consulting the
scholarly literature. I feel sheepish about engaging in this interesting
discussion without first having consulted the scholarly literature.
Everything we say in this discussion is almost certainly either wrong or
already described in the literature.