Time in probabilistic causation: direct vs. indirect uses of lexical causative verbs


  • Fabienne Martin




It is traditionally assumed that lexical causative verbs (e.g. kill) express direct causation
only, while periphrastic (bi-clausal) causatives (e.g. cause to die) may also express indirect
causation. In favour of this constraint, Fodor famously observed that the (change of) state introduced
by lexical causative verbs is not accessible for separate adverbial modification by temporal
(or manner) adverbials. In this paper, I present old and new arguments against the direct causation
constraint under the definitions of directness of Fodor and Wolff. I then propose a new definition
of directness in terms of ab-initio causal sufficiency framed in Kvart’s probabilistic account of
singular causation. I argue that directness so redefined is an implicature rather than an entailment
of lexical causative verbs, which enables me to account for old and new data. Furthermore, I account
for why the constraint on separate modification by temporal adverbials can be relaxed with
eventuality-denoting subjects.
Keywords: lexical causative verbs, direct vs. indirect causation, causal sufficiency, probabilistic
theories of causation, semantics/pragmatics interface.





Martin, Fabienne. 2018. „Time in Probabilistic Causation: Direct Vs. Indirect Uses of Lexical Causative Verbs“. ZAS Papers in Linguistics 61 (Januar):107-24. https://doi.org/10.21248/zaspil.61.2018.487.