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  1. added 2018-11-06
    Modality and Expressibility.Matthew Mandelkern - forthcoming - Review of Symbolic Logic:1-39.
    When embedding data are used to argue against semantic theory A and in favor of semantic theory B, it is important to ask whether A could, after all, make sense of those data. It is possible to ask that question on a case-by-case basis. But suppose we could show that A can make sense of all the embedding data which B can possibly make sense of. This would, in one fell swoop, undermine all arguments in favor of B over A (...)
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  2. added 2018-11-06
    How to Do Things with Modals.Matthew Mandelkern - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    In a brief discussion of epistemic modals, Wittgenstein (1953) warns against ‘regard[ing] a hesitant assertion as an assertion of hesitancy’. A modal claim like ‘It might be raining’, the thought goes, should not be regarded as an assertion of the speaker's uncertainty as to whether or not it is raining, but rather as something quite different in kind: a proposal to treat the possibility of rain as live. Wittgenstein’s admonition has, in recent years, been at the heart of arguments that, (...)
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  3. added 2018-11-05
    Expectation Biases and Context Management with Negative Polar Questions.Alex Silk - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Logic.
    This paper examines distinctive discourse properties of preposed negative 'yes/no' questions (NPQs), such as 'Isn't Jane coming too?'. Unlike with other polar questions, using an NPQ ~p? invariably conveys a bias toward a particular answer, where the polarity of the bias is opposite of the polarity of the question: using the negative question ~p? invariably expresses that the speaker previously expected the positive answer p to be correct. A prominent approach — what I call the 'context-management approach', developed most extensively (...)
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  4. added 2018-11-04
    Credence for Epistemic Discourse.Paolo Santorio - manuscript
    Many recent theories of epistemic discourse exploit an informational notion of consequence, i.e. a notion that defines entailment as preservation of support by an information state. This paper investigates how informational consequence fits with probabilistic reasoning. I raise two problems. First, all informational inferences that are not also classical inferences are, intuitively, probabilistically invalid. Second, all these inferences can be exploited, in a systematic way, to generate triviality results. The informational theorist is left with two options, both of them radical: (...)
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  5. added 2018-10-05
    The Pragmatics of Insensitive Assessments: Understanding The Relativity of Assessments of Judgments of Personal Taste, Epistemic Modals, and More.Gunnar Björnsson & Alexander Almér - 2010 - The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 6 (1):1-45.
    In assessing the veridicality of utterances, we normally seem to assess the satisfaction of conditions that the speaker had been concerned to get right in making the utterance. However, the debate about assessor-relativism about epistemic modals, predicates of taste, gradable adjectives and conditionals has been largely driven by cases in which seemingly felicitous assessments of utterances are insensitive to aspects of the context of utterance that were highly relevant to the speaker’s choice of words. In this paper, we offer an (...)
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  6. added 2018-09-28
    Embedded Attitudes.Kyle H. Blumberg & Ben Holguín - forthcoming - Journal of Semantics.
    This paper presents a puzzle involving embedded attitude reports. We resolve the puzzle by arguing that attitude verbs take restricted readings: in some environments the denotation of attitude verbs can be restricted by a given proposition. For example, when these verbs are embedded in the consequent of a conditional, they can be restricted by the proposition expressed by the conditional’s antecedent. We formulate and motivate two conditions on the availability of verb restrictions: (i) a constraint that ties the content of (...)
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  7. added 2018-08-27
    Epistemic Modality, Eavesdroppers and the Objectivity Problem.Wylie Breckenridge - manuscript
    There is an account of modal operators that is both elegant and powerful and that deserves to be called the standard account. There are, however, some epistemic uses of modal operators which seem to be counterexamples to the account – they pose what I call the objectivity problem. It is often thought that the objectivity problem can be fixed by a certain kind of modification to the standard account. I argue that this kind of modification cannot work. Then I argue (...)
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  8. added 2018-08-22
    Strategic Content: Representations of Epistemic Modality in Biosemantics.Gunnar Björnsson - 2018 - Theoria 84 (3):259-277.
    A central idea in Ruth Millikan’s biosemantics is that a representation’s content is restricted to conditions required for the normal success of actions that it has as its function to guide. This paper raises and responds to a problem for this idea. The problem is that the success requirement seems to block us from saying that epistemic modal judgments represent our epistemic circumstances. For the normal success of actions guided by these judgments seems to depend on what is actually the (...)
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  9. added 2018-08-07
    Permissives and Epistemic Modals.Josh Parsons - manuscript
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  10. added 2018-07-26
    A New Puzzle About Belief and Credence.Andrew Moon - forthcoming - Canadian Journal of Philosophy:1-20.
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  11. added 2018-07-22
    A Solution to Karttunen's Problem.Matthew Mandelkern - 2017 - In Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21.
    There is a difference between the conditions in which one can felicitously assert a ‘must’-claim versus those in which one can use the corresponding non-modal claim. But it is difficult to pin down just what this difference amounts to. And it is even harder to account for this difference, since assertions of 'Must ϕ' and assertions of ϕ alone seem to have the same basic goal: namely, coming to agreement that [[ϕ]] is true. In this paper I take on this (...)
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  12. added 2018-05-11
    Confidence Reports.Fabrizio Cariani, Paolo Santorio & Alexis Wellwood - manuscript
    We advocate and develop a states-based semantics for both nominal and adjectival confidence reports, as in "Ann is confident/has confidence that it's raining", and their comparatives "Ann is more confident/has more confidence that it's raining than that it's snowing". Other examples of adjectives that can report confidence include "sure" and "certain". Our account adapts Wellwood's account of adjectival comparatives in which the adjectives denote properties of states, and measure functions are introduced compositionally. We further explore the prospects of applying these (...)
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  13. added 2018-05-05
    New Horizons for a Theory of Epistemic Modals.Justin Khoo & Jonathan Phillips - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
    Recent debate over the semantics and pragmatics of epistemic modals has focused on intuitions about cross-contextual truth-value assessments. In this paper, we advocate for a different approach to evaluating theories of epistemic modals. Our strategy focuses on judgments of the incompatibility of two different epistemic possibility claims, or two different truth value assessments of a single epistemic possibility claim. We subject the predictions of existing theories to empirical scrutiny, and argue that existing contextualist and relativist theories are unable to account (...)
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  14. added 2018-04-04
    Binding Bound Variables in Epistemic Contexts.Brian Rabern - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-31.
    Quine insisted that the satisfaction of an open modalised formula by an object depends on how that object is described. Kripke’s "objectual" interpretation of quantified modal logic, whereby variables are rigid, is commonly thought to avoid these Quinean worries. Yet there remain residual Quinean worries in the epistemic case. Theorists have recently been toying with assignment-shifting treatments of epistemic contexts. On such views an epistemic operator ends up binding all the variables in its scope. One might worry that this yields (...)
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  15. added 2018-03-31
    Bounded Modality.Matthew Mandelkern - forthcoming - Philosophical Review.
    What does 'might' mean? One hypothesis is that 'It might be raining' is essentially an avowal of ignorance like 'For all I know, it's raining'. But it turns out these two constructions embed in different ways, in particular as parts of larger constructions like Wittgenstein's 'It might be raining and it's not' and Moore's 'It's raining and I don't know it', respectively. A variety of approaches have been developed to account for those differences. All approaches agree that both Moore sentences (...)
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  16. added 2018-03-24
    Grading Modal Judgment.Nate Charlow - manuscript
    This paper provides a model of graded modal judgment. It begins by problematizing the phenomenon: given plausible constraints on the logic of epistemic modality, it is impossible to model graded attitudes toward modal claims as judgments of probability targeting modal propositions. This paper considers two alternative models, on which modal operators are non-proposition-forming operators: -/- (1) Moss (2015), in which graded attitudes toward modal claims are represented as judgments of probability targeting a “proxy” proposition, belief in which would underwrite belief (...)
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  17. added 2018-03-15
    Updating Data Semantics.Anthony S. Gillies - forthcoming - Mind:fzy008.
    This paper has three main goals. First, to motivate a puzzle about how ignorance-expressing language like \expression{maybe} and \expression{if} interact: they (surprisingly) iterate and when they do they exhibit scopelessness. Second, to argue that there is an ambiguity in our theoretical toolbox and that resolving that opens the door to a solution to the puzzle. And third, to explore the reach of that solution (it turns out to do work in unexpected places). Along the way, the paper highlights a number (...)
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  18. added 2018-02-10
    Assertion and Modality.Fabrizio Cariani - forthcoming - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    This essay is an opinionated exploration of the constraints that modal discourse imposes on the theory of assertion. Primary focus is on the question whether modal discourse challenges the traditional view that all assertions have propositional content. This question is tackled largely with reference to discourse involving epistemic modals, although connections with other flavors of modality are noted along the way.
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  19. added 2018-01-20
    Weak and Strong Necessity Modals: On Linguistic Means of Expressing "A Primitive Concept OUGHT".Alex Silk - forthcoming - In Meaning, Decision, and Norms: Themes from the Work of Allan Gibbard.
    This paper develops an account of the meaning of `ought', and the distinction between weak necessity modals (`ought', `should') and strong necessity modals (`must', `have to'). I argue that there is nothing specially ``strong'' about strong necessity modals per se: uses of `Must p' predicate the (deontic/epistemic/etc.) necessity of the prejacent p of the actual world (evaluation world). The apparent ``weakness'' of weak necessity modals derives from their bracketing whether the necessity of the prejacent is verified in the actual world. (...)
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  20. added 2018-01-16
    Believing Epistemic Contradictions.Beddor Bob & Simon Goldstein - 2018 - Review of Symbolic Logic (1):87-114.
    What is it to believe something might be the case? We develop a puzzle that creates difficulties for standard answers to this question. We go on to propose our own solution, which integrates a Bayesian approach to belief with a dynamic semantics for epistemic modals. After showing how our account solves the puzzle, we explore a surprising consequence: virtually all of our beliefs about what might be the case provide counterexamples to the view that rational belief is closed under logical (...)
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  21. added 2017-10-23
    Modals, Contextual Parameters, and the Modal Uniformity Hypothesis.Daniel Skibra - manuscript
    There is a common assumption in the semantics of modal auxiliaries in natural language; in utterances of MOD φ , where MOD is a modal and φ is the prejacent, context determines the particular flavor of modality expressed by the modal. Such is the standard contextualist semantics of Kratzer and related proposals. This winds up being a problem, because there is a significant class of modals which have constraints on the admissible modal flavor that are not traceable to context. For (...)
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  22. added 2017-07-27
    The Relativity of Evaluative Sentences: Disagreeing Over Disagreement.Justina Díaz Legaspe - 2013 - Kriterion: Revista de Filosofia 54 (127):211-226.
    Evaluative sentences (moral judgments, expressions of taste, epistemic modals) are relative to the speaker's standards. Lately, a phenomenon has challenged the traditional explanation of this relativity: whenever two speakers disagree over them they contradict each other without being at fault. Hence, it is thought that the correction of the assertions involved must be relative to an unprivileged standard not necessarily the speaker's. I will claim instead that so far, neither this nor any other proposal has provided an explanation of the (...)
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  23. added 2017-04-21
    General Dynamic Triviality Theorems.Jeffrey Sanford Russell & John Hawthorne - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (3):307-339.
    Famous results by David Lewis show that plausible-sounding constraints on the probabilities of conditionals or evaluative claims lead to unacceptable results, by standard probabilistic reasoning. Existing presentations of these results rely on stronger assumptions than they really need. When we strip these arguments down to a minimal core, we can see both how certain replies miss the mark, and also how to devise parallel arguments for other domains, including epistemic “might,” probability claims, claims about comparative value, and so on. A (...)
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  24. added 2016-05-08
    Naturalism, Fallibilism, and the a Priori.Lisa Warenski - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 142 (3):403-426.
    This paper argues that a priori justification is, in principle, compatible with naturalism—if the a priori is understood in a way that is free of the inessential properties that, historically, have been associated with the concept. I argue that empirical indefeasibility is essential to the primary notion of the a priori ; however, the indefeasibility requirement should be interpreted in such a way that we can be fallibilist about apriori-justified claims. This fallibilist notion of the a priori accords with the (...)
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  25. added 2016-04-29
    Deontic Modals and Probability: One Theory to Rule Them All?Fabrizio Cariani - forthcoming - In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press.
    This paper motivates and develops a novel semantic framework for deontic modals. The framework is designed to shed light on two things: the relationship between deontic modals and substantive theories of practical rationality and the interaction of deontic modals with conditionals, epistemic modals and probability operators. I argue that, in order to model inferential connections between deontic modals and probability operators, we need more structure than is provided by classical intensional theories. In particular, we need probabilistic structure that interacts directly (...)
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  26. added 2016-04-29
    Choice Points for a Modal Theory of Disjunction.Fabrizio Cariani - 2017 - Topoi 36 (1):171-181.
    This paper investigates the prospects for a semantic theory that treats disjunction as a modal operator. Potential motivation for such a theory comes from the way in which modals embed within disjunctions. After reviewing some of the relevant data, I go on to distinguish a variety of modal theories of disjunction. I analyze these theories by considering pairs of conflicting desiderata, highlighting some of the tradeoffs they must face.
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  27. added 2016-02-10
    On Truth Unpersistence: At the Crossroads of Epistemic Modality and Discourse.Patrícia Amaral & Fabio Del Prete - 2016 - Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 34.
    We propose a semantic analysis of the particles afinal (European Portuguese) and alla fine (Italian) in terms of the notion of truth unpersistence, which combines both epistemic modality and constraints on discourse structure. We argue that the felicitous use of these modal particles requires that the truth of a proposition p* fail to persist through a temporal succession of epistemic states, where p* is incompatible with the proposition modified by afinal/alla fine, and that the interlocutors share knowledge of a previous (...)
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  28. added 2015-11-26
    Will Done Better: Selection Semantics, Future Credence, and Indeterminacy.Fabrizio Cariani & Paolo Santorio - 2018 - Mind 127 (505):129-165.
    Statements about the future are central in everyday conversation and reasoning. How should we understand their meaning? The received view among philosophers treats will as a tense: in ‘Cynthia will pass her exam’, will shifts the reference time forward. Linguists, however, have produced substantial evidence for the view that will is a modal, on a par with must and would. The different accounts are designed to satisfy different theoretical constraints, apparently pulling in opposite directions. We show that these constraints are (...)
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  29. added 2015-05-15
    Modal Disagreements.Justin Khoo - 2015 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (5):511-534.
    It is often assumed that when one party felicitously rejects an assertion made by an- other party, the first party thinks that the proposition asserted by the second is false. This assumption underlies various disagreement arguments used to challenge contex- tualism about some class of expressions. As such, many contextualists have resisted these arguments on the grounds that the disagreements in question may not be over the proposition literally asserted. The result appears to be a dialectical stalemate, with no independent (...)
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  30. added 2015-04-10
    Possibly False Knowledge.Alex Worsnip - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy 112 (5):225-246.
    Many epistemologists call themselves ‘fallibilists’. But many philosophers of language hold that the meaning of epistemic usages of ‘possible’ ensures a close knowledge- possibility link : a subject’s utterance of ‘it’s possible that not-p’ is true only if the subject does not know that p. This seems to suggest that whatever the core insight behind fallibilism is, it can’t be that a subject could have knowledge which is, for them, possibly false. I argue that, on the contrary, subjects can have (...)
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  31. added 2014-04-28
    Must I Do What I Ought (or Will the Least I Can Do Do)?Paul McNamara - 1996 - In Mark Brown & Jose' Carmo (eds.), Deontic Logic, Agency and Normative Systems. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. pp. 154-173.
    Appears to give the first model-theoretic account of both "must" and "ought" (without conflating them with one another). Some key pre-theoretic semantic and pragmatic phenomena that support a negative answer to the main title question are identified and a conclusion of some significance is drawn: a pervasive bipartisan presupposition of twentieth century ethical theory and deontic logic is false. Next, an intuitive model-theoretic framework for "must" and "ought" is hypothesized. It is then shown how this hypothesis helps to explain and (...)
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  32. added 2014-04-04
    Permission and (So-Called Epistemic) Possibility.Stephen Yablo - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press.
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  33. added 2014-04-02
    Embedding Epistemic Modals.Cian Dorr & John Hawthorne - 2013 - Mind 122 (488):867-914.
    Seth Yalcin has pointed out some puzzling facts about the behaviour of epistemic modals in certain embedded contexts. For example, conditionals that begin ‘If it is raining and it might not be raining, … ’ sound unacceptable, unlike conditionals that begin ‘If it is raining and I don’t know it, … ’. These facts pose a prima facie problem for an orthodox treatment of epistemic modals as expressing propositions about the knowledge of some contextually specified individual or group. This paper (...)
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  34. added 2014-04-01
    Conditionals, Modals, and Hypothetical Syllogism.Lee Walters - 2014 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):90-97.
    Moti Mizrahi (2013) presents some novel counterexamples to Hypothetical Syllogism (HS) for indicative conditionals. I show that they are not compelling as they neglect the complicated ways in which conditionals and modals interact. I then briefly outline why HS should nevertheless be rejected.
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  35. added 2014-03-27
    A Problem About Permission and Possibility.Stephen Yablo - 2009 - In Andy Egan & B. Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality. Oxford University Press.
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  36. added 2014-03-17
    Lying as a Scalar Phenomenon.Neri Marsili - 2014 - In Sibilla Cantarini, Werner Abraham & Elizabeth Leiss (eds.), "Certainty-uncertainty – and the attitudinal space in between”,. John Benjamins Publishing.
    In the philosophical debate on lying, there has generally been agreement that either the speaker believes that his statement is false, or he believes that his statement is true. This article challenges this assumption, and argues that lying is a scalar phenomenon that allows for a number of intermediate cases – the most obvious being cases of uncertainty. The first section shows that lying can involve beliefs about graded truth values (fuzzy lies) and graded beliefs (graded-belief lies). It puts forward (...)
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  37. added 2014-03-17
    Epistemic Modals in Context.Andy Egan, John Hawthorne & Brian Weatherson - 2005 - In G. Preyer & G. Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 131-170.
    A very simple contextualist treatment of a sentence containing an epistemic modal, e.g. a might be F, is that it is true iff for all the contextually salient community knows, a is F. It is widely agreed that the simple theory will not work in some cases, but the counterexamples produced so far seem amenable to a more complicated contextualist theory. We argue, however, that no contextualist theory can capture the evaluations speakers naturally make of sentences containing epistemic modals. If (...)
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  38. added 2014-03-15
    Epistemic Modals.Seth Yalcin - 2007 - Mind 116 (464):983-1026.
    Epistemic modal operators give rise to something very like, but also very unlike, Moore's paradox. I set out the puzzling phenomena, explain why a standard relational semantics for these operators cannot handle them, and recommend an alternative semantics. A pragmatics appropriate to the semantics is developed and interactions between the semantics, the pragmatics, and the definition of consequence are investigated. The semantics is then extended to probability operators. Some problems and prospects for probabilistic representations of content and context are explored.
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  39. added 2014-01-22
    A Semantic Constraint on the Logic of Modal Conditionals.Zsófia Zvolenszky - 2006 - Proceedings of the Ninth Symposium on Logic and Language (LoLa 9).
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  40. added 2014-01-22
    Is a Possible-Worlds Semantics of Modality Possible? A Problem for Kratzer's Semantics.Zsófia Zvolenszky - 2002 - Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT):339-358.
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  41. added 2013-05-28
    Epistemic Modal Eavesdropping: A Straight Solution to a Relativist Challenge.Joe Salerno - manuscript
    A primary challenge from the relativist to the contextualist about epistemic modals is to explain eavesdropping data—i.e., why the eavesdropper is inclined to judge the speaker as having uttered an epistemic modal falsehood (when she is so inclined), even though the speaker’s utterance is true according to reasonable contextualist truth conditions. The issue turns in large part on the strength and shape of the data, both of which are in dispute. One complaint is that an eavesdropper’s truth value judgments fluctuate (...)
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  42. added 2013-05-26
    How to Embed Epistemic Modals Without Violating Modus Tollens.Joe Salerno - manuscript
    Epistemic modals in consequent place of indicative conditionals give rise to apparent counterexamples to Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens. Familiar assumptions of fa- miliar truth conditional theories of modality facilitate a prima facie explanation—viz., that the target cases harbor epistemic modal equivocations. However, these explana- tions go too far. For they foster other predictions of equivocation in places where in fact there are no equivocations. It is argued here that the key to the solution is to drop the assumption that (...)
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  43. added 2011-10-18
    A Flexible Contextualist Account of Epistemic Modals.Janice Dowell, J. L. - 2011 - Philosophers' Imprint 11:1-25.
    On Kratzer’s canonical account, modal expressions (like “might” and “must”) are represented semantically as quantifiers over possibilities. Such expressions are themselves neutral; they make a single contribution to determining the propositions expressed across a wide range of uses. What modulates the modality of the proposition expressed—as bouletic, epistemic, deontic, etc.—is context.2 This ain’t the canon for nothing. Its power lies in its ability to figure in a simple and highly unified explanation of a fairly wide range of language use. Recently, (...)
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  44. added 2011-04-16
    The Unthinkable, Might It Be?Daniel Dohrn - manuscript
    A basic intuition about epistemic possibility is the following: It might be that p iff it is open whether p. The standard way of cashing out this intuition is: It might be that p iff it is reconcilable with one’s informational state that p. However, there are certain examples which point to a lacuna in this conception. They indicate that epistemic possibility is restricted to what one can conceive as an alternative, what one can have a cognitive attitude to.
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  45. added 2011-01-23
    Epistemic Modals and Epistemic Modality.Brian Weatherson & Andy Egan - 2009 - In Andy Egan & Brian Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-18.
    There is a lot that we don’t know. That means that there are a lot of possibilities that are, epistemically speaking, open. For instance, we don’t know whether it rained in Seattle yesterday. So, for us at least, there is an epistemic possibility where it rained in Seattle yesterday, and one where it did not. It’s tempting to give a very simple analysis of epistemic possibility: • A possibility is an epistemic possibility if we do not know that it does (...)
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  46. added 2010-08-23
    Hard Cases for Combining Expressivism and Deflationist Truth: Conditionals and Epistemic Modals.Mark Schroeder - forthcoming - In Steven Gross & Michael Williams (eds.), (unknown). Oxford University Press.
    In this paper I will be concerned with the question as to whether expressivist theories of meaning can coherently be combined with deflationist theories of truth. After outlining what I take expressivism to be and what I take deflationism about truth to be, I’ll explain why I don’t take the general version of this question to be very hard, and why the answer is ‘yes’. Having settled that, I’ll move on to what I take to be a more pressing and (...)
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