Date of Award

August 2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Peter van Elswyk

Committee Members

Nicholas Fleisher


Imperatives can be answers to questions. That creates a dilemma. It seems to force us to choose between the predominant semantics of imperatives on which imperatives are non-propositional, and the standard semantics of questions on which answers are propositions and questions are sets of them. This paper presents the dilemma and offers a solution. To preserve the non-propositional semantics of imperatives, I argue that imperatival answers are fragment answers. To retain the propositional nature of answers, I proffer a discourse function-oriented mechanism for constructing propositions from imperatives pragmatically. Specifically, I show that the pragmatically constructed contents of imperatival answers are similar to the propositional contents expressed in anankastic conditionals.

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Philosophy Commons