More on presuppositions

Kenrick Cleveland recently posted on presuppositions.

[Quick quiz: how many presuppositions can you find in the title and that first sentence? I count 5 different ones off the top of my head. I put my answer at the bottom.]

His article is worth checking out at

I’d add something to his first example. Go read it first and then come back.

He uses the example of, "We need to fight the terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them over here."

I was snookered into believing that before so that one hits home.

He’s right about there being a presupposition on needing to fight terrorists. What I’d add is that fighting them here if we don’t fight them over there isn’t a presupposition. That’s explicitly stated.

Additional presuppositions are that there are some group of people that we can identify and demonize by classifying them as terrorists. Another is that there is some place we all agree is "here" and "there." That one is even more insidious because it goes completely unnoticed. "There" can be anywhere that’s reasonably not "here." That becomes Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, etc. Where does it stop? If you’re in the US, is Mexico or Canada here or there?

Don’t be fooled into thinking that presuppositions are simply innocuous linguistic tricks. Language shapes our thoughts and actions. That’s good news for you if you know how to use them and defend against them.

Here’s another good one if anyone wants to try their hand at dissecting:

"Since they want to die in Jihad so bad, I’d be happy to facilitate that arrangement."

[The presuppositions I caught earlier were that 1) there are such a thing as presuppositions, 2) that something has already been said about them (i.e. "more on…"), 3) there is such a person as Kenrick, 4) he knows something about presuppositions and 5) he has a blog he posts to.]

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