Where would Waldo have been? Understanding counterfactual language understanding
Counterfactual thinking is central to the study of human cognition, but what do we know about counterfactual language and how people understand it? In this talk, I will dissect the anatomy of counterfactual statements from a linguistic point of view, and present two ongoing lines of research from my lab that shed light on the conditions under which counterfactual comprehension breaks down. Contrary to prominent theoretical claims, we show that pragmatic reasoning, for instance over causal event structure and over relevant alternatives, are paramount to successful counterfactual comprehension.