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  1. The myth of occurrence-based semantics.Bryan Pickel & Brian Rabern - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44:813-837.
    The principle of compositionality requires that the meaning of a complex expression remains the same after substitution of synonymous expressions. Alleged counterexamples to compositionality seem to force a theoretical choice: either apparent synonyms are not synonyms or synonyms do not syntactically occur where they appear to occur. Some theorists have instead looked to Frege’s doctrine of “reference shift” according to which the meaning of an expression is sensitive to its linguistic context. This doctrine is alleged to retain the relevant claims (...)
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  • Stupefying.Michael Deigan - 2022 - Philosophers' Imprint 22 (1).
    Assertions are often accepted without being understood, a phenomenon I call stupefying. I argue that stupefying can be a means for conversational manipulation that works through at-issue content, in contrast with the not-at-issue and back-door speech act routes identified by others. This shows that we should reject a widely assumed connection between attention and at-issue content. In exploring why stupefying happens, it also emerges that stupefying has important cooperative uses, in addition to its manipulative ones, and so should not be (...)
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  • Agreement and Communication.Max Kölbel - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S1):101-120.
    I distinguish two notions of agreement in belief: believing the same content versus having beliefs that necessarily coincide/diverge in normative status. The second notion of agreement,, is clearly significant for the communication of beliefs amongst thinkers. Thus there would seem to be some prima facie advantage to choosing the conception of content operative in in such a way that the normative status of beliefs supervenes on their content, and this seems to be the prevailing assumption of many semanticists. I shall (...)
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  • Relational Semantics and Domain Semantics for Epistemic Modals.Dilip Ninan - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 47 (1):1-16.
    The standard account of modal expressions in natural language analyzes them as quantifiers over a set of possible worlds determined by the evaluation world and an accessibility relation. A number of authors have recently argued for an alternative account according to which modals are analyzed as quantifying over a domain of possible worlds that is specified directly in the points of evaluation. But the new approach only handles the data motivating it if it is supplemented with a non-standard account of (...)
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  • Assertoric content, responsibility, and metasemantics.Andrew Peet - 2021 - Mind and Language 37 (5):914-932.
    I argue that assertoric content functions as a means for us to track the responsibilities undertaken by communicators, and that distinctively assertoric commitments are distinguished by being generated directly in virtue of the words the speaker uses. This raises two questions: (a) Why are speakers responsible for the content thus generated? (b) Why is it important for us to distinguish between commitments in terms of their manner of generation? I answer the first question by developing a novel responsibility based metasemantics. (...)
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  • Semantic monsters.Brian Rabern - 2021 - In Heimir Geirsson & Stephen Biggs (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Reference. New York: Routledge. pp. 515-532.
    This chapter provides a general overview of the issues surrounding so-called semantic monsters. In section 1, I outline the basics of Kaplan’s framework and spell out how and why the topic of “monsters” arises within that framework. In Section 2, I distinguish four notions of a monster that are discussed in the literature, and show why, although they can pull apart in different frameworks or with different assumptions, they all coincide within Kaplan’s framework. In Section 3, I discuss one notion (...)
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  • Noncognitivism without expressivism.Bob Beddor - 2023 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 107 (3):762-788.
    According to expressivists, normative language expresses desire‐like states of mind. According to noncognitivists, normative beliefs have a desire‐like functional role. What is the relation between these two doctrines? It is widely assumed that expressivism commits you to noncognitivism, and vice versa. This paper opposes that assumption. I advance a view that combines a noncognitivist psychology with a descriptivist semantics for normative language. While this might seem like an ungainly hybrid, I argue that it has important advantages over more familiar metaethical (...)
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  • The Science of Meaning: Essays on the Metatheory of Natural Language Semantics.Derek Ball & Brian Rabern (eds.) - 2018 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    By creating certain marks on paper, or by making certain sounds-breathing past a moving tongue-or by articulation of hands and bodies, language users can give expression to their mental lives. With language we command, assert, query, emote, insult, and inspire. Language has meaning. This fact can be quite mystifying, yet a science of linguistic meaning-semantics-has emerged at the intersection of a variety of disciplines: philosophy, linguistics, computer science, and psychology. Semantics is the study of meaning. But what exactly is "meaning"? (...)
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  • Attitudes, Deontics and Semantic Neutrality.Fabrizio Cariani - 2014 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (4):491-511.
    It has been recently suggested that a semantic theory for deontic modals should be neutral between a very large range of normative and evaluative theories. This article aims to clarify this talk of neutrality, in particular its scope and motivation. My thesis is that neutrality is best understood as an empirical thesis about a fragment of natural language that includes deontic modals – not as a new, sui generis methodological constraint on natural language semantics.
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  • Monsters and the theoretical role of context.Brian Rabern & Derek Ball - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (2):392-416.
    Kaplan (1989) famously claimed that monsters--operators that shift the context--do not exist in English and "could not be added to it". Several recent theorists have pointed out a range of data that seem to refute Kaplan's claim, but others (most explicitly Stalnaker 2014) have offered a principled argument that monsters are impossible. This paper interprets and resolves the dispute. Contra appearances, this is no dry, technical matter: it cuts to the heart of a deep disagreement about the fundamental structure of (...)
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  • A Bridge from Semantic Value to Content.Brian Rabern - 2017 - Philosophical Topics 45 (2):181-207.
    A common view relating compositional semantics and the objects of assertion holds the following: Sentences φ and ψ expresses the same proposition iff φ and ψ have the same modal profile. Following Dummett, Evans, and Lewis, Stanley argues that this view is fundamentally mistaken. According to Dummett, we must distinguish the semantic contribution a sentence makes to more complex expressions in which it occurs from its assertoric content. Stojnić insists that views which distinguish the roles of content and semantic value (...)
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  • What is Meaning? (review). [REVIEW]Brian Ball - 2011 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 41 (4):485-503.
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  • Truth and Imprecision.Josh Armstrong - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    Our ordinary assertions are often imprecise, insofar as the way we represent things as being only approximates how things are in the actual world. The phenomenon of assertoric imprecision raises a challenge to standard accounts of both the norm of assertion and the connection between semantics and the objects of assertion. After clarifying these problems in detail, I develop a framework for resolving them. Specifically, I argue that the phenomenon of assertoric imprecision motivates a rejection of the widely held belief (...)
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  • Partial understanding.Martín Abreu Zavaleta - 2023 - Synthese 202 (2):1-32.
    Say that an audience understands a given utterance perfectly only if she correctly identifies which proposition (or propositions) that utterance expresses. In ideal circumstances, the participants in a conversation will understand each other’s utterances perfectly; however, even if they do not, they may still understand each other’s utterances at least in part. Although it is plausible to think that the phenomenon of partial understanding is very common, there is currently no philosophical account of it. This paper offers such an account. (...)
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  • Inferences from Utterance to Belief.Martín Abreu Zavaleta - 2023 - Philosophical Quarterly 73 (2):301-322.
    If Amelia utters ‘Brad ate a salad in 2005’ assertorically, and she is speaking literally and sincerely, then I can infer that Amelia believes that Brad ate a salad in 2005. This paper discusses what makes this kind of inference truth-preserving. According to the baseline picture, my inference is truth-preserving because, if Amelia is a competent speaker, she believes that the sentence she uttered means that Brad ate a salad in 2005; thus, if Amelia believes that that sentence is true, (...)
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  • The operator argument and the case of timestamp semantics.Jakub Węgrecki - 2023 - Synthese 202 (6):1-28.
    The Operator Argument against eternalism holds that having non-vacuous tense operators in the language is incompatible with the claim that every proposition has its truth-value eternally. Assuming that (1) there are non-vacuous tense operators, (2) tense operators operate on propositions and (3) tense operators which operate on eternal entities are vacuous, it may be argued that eternalism is false. In this paper, I examine the Operator Argument. The goal is threefold. First, I want to present some aspects of the debate (...)
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  • Representing multiply de re epistemic modal statements.Cem Şişkolar - 2024 - Linguistics and Philosophy 47 (2):211-237.
    I review Ninan’s Hundred Tickets case pertaining to quantification into epistemic modal contexts, and his counterpart theoretic way to address it (Ninan, Philos Rev, 2018). Ninan’s solution employs a ‘counterpart relation’ parameter intended to reflect how the domain of quantification is thought of in a context. This approach theoretically rules out the possibility of contexts where different ways of thinking about the domain can be deployed through different quantificational noun phrases. I bring out the case of the multiply de re (...)
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  • Perspectival Plurality, Relativism, and Multiple Indexing.Dan Zeman - 2018 - In Rob Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern & Hannah Rohde (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21. Semantics Archives. pp. 1353-1370.
    In this paper I focus on a recently discussed phenomenon illustrated by sentences containing predicates of taste: the phenomenon of " perspectival plurality " , whereby sentences containing two or more predicates of taste have readings according to which each predicate pertains to a different perspective. This phenomenon has been shown to be problematic for (at least certain versions of) relativism. My main aim is to further the discussion by showing that the phenomenon extends to other perspectival expressions than predicates (...)
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  • Clause-Type, Force, and Normative Judgment in the Semantics of Imperatives.Nate Charlow - 2018 - In Daniel Fogal, Daniel W. Harris & Matt Moss (eds.), New Work on Speech Acts. Oxford University Press. pp. 67–98.
    I argue that imperatives express contents that are both cognitively and semantically related to, but nevertheless distinct from, modal propositions. Imperatives, on this analysis, semantically encode features of planning that are modally specified. Uttering an imperative amounts to tokening this feature in discourse, and thereby proffering it for adoption by the audience. This analysis deals smoothly with the problems afflicting Portner's Dynamic Pragmatic account and Kaufmann's Modal account. It also suggests an appealing reorientation of clause-type theorizing, in which the cognitive (...)
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  • Wahrheit.Dirk Kindermann - 2015 - In Nikola Kompa (ed.), Handbuch Sprachphilosophie. Stuttgart: Metzler. pp. 91-99.
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  • Recent Developments in Monster-Oriented Semantics意味論的モンスターをめぐる近年の展開について.Yoshiyuki Yokoro & Ryohei Takaya - 2020 - Kagaku Tetsugaku 52 (2):61-83.
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  • VI-BayesianExpressivism.Seth Yalcin - 2012 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (2pt2):123-160.
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  • Assertoric Content and General Compositionality主張内容を合成的に導く主張内容を合成的に導く.Ryohei Takaya - 2019 - Kagaku Tetsugaku 52 (1):23-46.
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  • On Value-Attributions: Semantics and Beyond.Isidora Stojanovic - 2012 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 50 (4):621-638.
    This paper is driven by the idea that the contextualism-relativism debate regarding the semantics of value-attributions turns upon certain extra-semantic assumptions that are unwarranted. One is the assumption that the many-place predicate of truth, deployed by compositional semantics, cannot be directly appealed to in theorizing about people's assessments of truth value, but must be supplemented (if not replaced) by a different truth-predicate, obtained through certain "postsemantic" principles. Another is the assumption that semantics assigns to sentences not only truth values (as (...)
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  • Content in a Dynamic Context.Una Stojnić - 2017 - Noûs 53 (2):394-432.
    The standing tradition in theorizing about meaning, since at least Frege, identifies meaning with propositions, which are, or determine, the truth-conditions of a sentence in a context. But a recent trend has advocated a departure from this tradition: in particular, it has been argued that modal claims do not express standard propositional contents. This non-propositionalism has received different implementations in expressivist semantics and certain kinds of dynamic semantics. They maintain that the key aspect of interpretation of modal claims is the (...)
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  • On Content Uniformity for Beliefs and Desires.Daniel Skibra - 2020 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 12 (2):279-309.
    The view that dominates the literature on intentional attitudes holds that beliefs and desires both have propositional content. A commitment to what I call “content uniformity” underlies this view. According to content uniformity, beliefs and desires are but different psychological modes having a uniform kind of content. Prima facie, the modes don’t place any constraint on the kinds of content the attitude can have. I challenge this consensus by pointing out an asymmetry between belief contents and desire contents which shows (...)
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  • What is a truth-value gap?James R. Shaw - 2014 - Linguistics and Philosophy 37 (6):503-534.
    Truth-value gaps have received little attention from a foundational perspective, a fact which has rightfully opened up gap theories to charges of vacuousness. This paper develops an account of the foundations of gap-like behavior which has some hope of avoiding such charges. I begin by reviewing and sharpening a powerful argument of Dummett’s to constrain the options that gap theorists have to make sense of their views. I then show that within these strictures, we can give an account of gaps (...)
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  • What is Said?Andreas Stokke & Anders J. Schoubye - 2015 - Noûs 50 (4):759-793.
    It is sometimes argued that certain sentences of natural language fail to express truth conditional contents. Standard examples include e.g. Tipper is ready and Steel is strong enough. In this paper, we provide a novel analysis of truth conditional meaning using the notion of a question under discussion. This account explains why these types of sentences are not, in fact, semantically underdetermined, provides a principled analysis of the process by which natural language sentences can come to have enriched meanings in (...)
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  • Against the Russellian open future.Anders J. Schoubye & Brian Rabern - 2017 - Mind 126 (504): 1217–1237.
    Todd (2016) proposes an analysis of future-directed sentences, in particular sentences of the form 'will(φ)', that is based on the classic Russellian analysis of definite descriptions. Todd's analysis is supposed to vindicate the claim that the future is metaphysically open while retaining a simple Ockhamist semantics of future contingents and the principles of classical logic, i.e. bivalence and the law of excluded middle. Consequently, an open futurist can straightforwardly retain classical logic without appeal to supervaluations, determinacy operators, or any further (...)
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  • Nonfactual Know-How and the Boundaries of Semantics.Paolo Santorio - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (1):35-82.
    Know-how and expressivism are usually regarded as disjoint topics, belonging to distant areas of philosophy. This paper argues that, despite obvious differences, the two debates have important similarities. In particular, semantic and conceptual tools developed by expressivists can be exported to the know-how debate. On the one hand, some of the expressivists' semantic resources can be used to deflect Stanley and Williamson's influential argument for factualism about know-how: the claim that knowing how to do something consists in knowing a fact. (...)
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  • On the Dynamics of Conversation.Daniel Rothschild & Seth Yalcin - 2017 - Noûs 51 (2):24-48.
    There is a longstanding debate in the literature about static versus dynamic approaches to meaning and conversation. A formal result due to van Benthem is often thought to be important for understanding what, conceptually speaking, is at issue in the debate. We introduce the concept of a conversation system, and we use it to clarify the import of van Benthem's result. We then distinguish two classes of conversation systems, corresponding to two concepts of staticness. The first class corresponds to a (...)
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  • Reference by proxy.Michael Rieppel - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-18.
    Formal semantic theories are generally thought to make contact with pre-theoretic semantic notions of aboutness and reference. The nature of that contact is, however, not always straightforward. This paper addresses two debates where that issue assumes a significant role. I begin with Simchen’s recent argument that Lewisian Interpretationism succumbs to referential indeterminacy. I develop a proposal about the relationship between the theoretical notion of a term’s semantic value and the pre-theoretic notion of reference, and argue that the indeterminacy Simchen identifies (...)
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  • A Puzzle about Belief-about.Alex Rausch - forthcoming - Mind.
    I present a puzzle for the standard, propositional semantic account of belief reports by considering novel inferences which it incorrectly predicts to be invalid under assumptions that are plausible by its advocates’ own lights. In response, I propose a conservative departure from the standard view on which certain ‘that’-clauses designate novel devices of semantic type that I call open propositions. After outlining some desiderata for a theory of open propositions, I provide some reasons for advocates of the standard view to (...)
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  • Monsters in Kaplan’s logic of demonstratives.Brian Rabern - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (2):393-404.
    Kaplan (1989a) insists that natural languages do not contain displacing devices that operate on character—such displacing devices are called monsters. This thesis has recently faced various empirical challenges (e.g., Schlenker 2003; Anand and Nevins 2004). In this note, the thesis is challenged on grounds of a more theoretical nature. It is argued that the standard compositional semantics of variable binding employs monstrous operations. As a dramatic first example, Kaplan’s formal language, the Logic of Demonstratives, is shown to contain monsters. For (...)
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  • Propositions and Multiple Indexing.Brian Rabern - 2012 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 1 (2):116-124.
    It is argued that propositions cannot be the compositional semantic values of sentences (in context) simply due to issues stemming from the compositional semantics of modal operators (or modal quantifiers). In particular, the fact that the arguments for double indexing generalize to multiple indexing exposes a fundamental tension in the default philosophical conception of semantic theory. This provides further motivation for making a distinction between two sentential semantic contents—what (Dummett 1973) called “ingredient sense” and “assertoric content”.
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  • Against the identification of assertoric content with compositional value.Brian Rabern - 2012 - Synthese 189 (1):75-96.
    This essay investigates whether or not we should think that the things we say are identical to the things our sentences mean. It is argued that these theoretical notions should be distinguished, since assertoric content does not respect the compositionality principle. As a paradigmatic example, Kaplan's formal language LD is shown to exemplify a failure of compositionality. It is demonstrated that by respecting the theoretical distinction between the objects of assertion and compositional values certain conflicts between compositionality and contextualism are (...)
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  • Metalinguistic Negotiation and Speaker Error.David Plunkett & Tim Sundell - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (1-2):142-167.
    In recent work, we have argued that a number of disputes of interest to philosophers – including some disputes amongst philosophers themselves – are metalinguistic negotiations. Prima facie, many of these disputes seem to concern worldly, non-linguistic issues directly. However, on our view, they in fact concern, in the first instance, normative questions about the use of linguistic expressions. This will strike many ordinary speakers as counterintuitive. In many of the disputes that we analyze as metalinguistic negotiations, speakers might quite (...)
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  • Against Fregean Quantification.Bryan Pickel & Brian Rabern - 2023 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 9 (37):971-1007.
    There are two dominant approaches to quantification: the Fregean and the Tarskian. While the Tarskian approach is standard and familiar, deep conceptual objections have been pressed against its employment of variables as genuine syntactic and semantic units. Because they do not explicitly rely on variables, Fregean approaches are held to avoid these worries. The apparent result is that the Fregean can deliver something that the Tarskian is unable to, namely a compositional semantic treatment of quantification centered on truth and reference. (...)
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  • Communication for Expressivists.Alejandro Pérez Carballo & Paolo Santorio - 2016 - Ethics 126 (3):607-635.
    How can expressivists make sense of the practice of communication? If communication is not a joint enterprise aimed at sharing information about the world, why do we engage in communication the way we do? Call this *the problem of communication*. Starting from basic assumptions about the rationality of speakers and the nature of assertion, we argue that speakers engaging in conversation about normative matters must presuppose that there is a unique normative standard on which the attitudes of conversational participants ought (...)
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  • Updating as Communication.Sarah Moss - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (2):225-248.
    Traditional procedures for rational updating fail when it comes to self-locating opinions, such as your credences about where you are and what time it is. This paper develops an updating procedure for rational agents with self-locating beliefs. In short, I argue that rational updating can be factored into two steps. The first step uses information you recall from your previous self to form a hypothetical credence distribution, and the second step changes this hypothetical distribution to reflect information you have genuinely (...)
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  • Arbitrary reference, numbers, and propositions.Michele Palmira - 2018 - European Journal of Philosophy 26 (3):1069-1085.
    Reductionist realist accounts of certain entities, such as the natural numbers and propositions, have been taken to be fatally undermined by what we may call the problem of arbitrary identification. The problem is that there are multiple and equally adequate reductions of the natural numbers to sets (see Benacerraf, 1965), as well as of propositions to unstructured or structured entities (see, e.g., Bealer, 1998; King, Soames, & Speaks, 2014; Melia, 1992). This paper sets out to solve the problem by canvassing (...)
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  • No context, no content, no problem.Ethan Nowak - 2020 - Mind and Language 36 (2):189-220.
    Recently, philosophers have offered compelling reasons to think that demonstratives are best represented as variables, sensitive not to the context of utterance, but to a variable assignment. Variablists typically explain familiar intuitions about demonstratives—intuitions that suggest that what is said by way of a demonstrative sentence varies systematically over contexts—by claiming that contexts initialize a particular assignment of values to variables. I argue that we do not need to link context and the assignment parameter in this way, and that we (...)
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  • Assertion, Evidence, and the Future.Dilip Ninan - 2022 - Philosophical Review 131 (4):405-451.
    This essay uses a puzzle about assertion and time to explore the pragmatics, semantics, and epistemology of future discourse. The puzzle concerns cases in which a subject is in a position to say, at an initial time t, that it will be that ϕ, but is not in a position to say, at a later time t′, that it is or was that ϕ, despite not losing or gaining any relevant evidence between t and t′. We consider a number of (...)
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  • On the Pragmatics of Counterfactuals.Sarah Moss - 2010 - Noûs 46 (3):561-586.
    Recently, von Fintel (2001) and Gillies (2007) have argued that certain sequences of counterfactuals, namely reverse Sobel sequences, should motivate us to abandon standard truth conditional theories of counterfactuals for dynamic semantic theories. I argue that we can give a pragmatic account of our judgments about counterfactuals without giving up the standard semantics. In particular, I introduce a pragmatic principle governing assertability, and I use this principle to explain a variety of subtle data concerning reverse Sobel sequences.
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  • Modality and expressibility.Matthew Mandelkern - 2019 - Review of Symbolic Logic 12 (4):768-805.
    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 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, on the one hand, undermine arguments in favor of B over A on the basis (...)
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  • How to do things with modals.Matthew Mandelkern - 2019 - Mind and Language 35 (1):115-138.
    Mind &Language, Volume 35, Issue 1, Page 115-138, February 2020.
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  • Bounded Modality.Matthew Mandelkern - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (1):1-61.
    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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  • Quantifying over Possibilities.John Mackay - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (4):577-617.
    A person of average height would assert a truth by the conditional ‘if I were seven feet tall, I would be taller than I am,’ in which an indicative clause ‘I am’ is embedded in a subjunctive conditional. By contrast, no one would assert a truth by ‘if I were seven feet tall, I would be taller than I would be’ or ‘if I am seven feet tall, I am taller than I am’. These examples exemplify the fact that whether (...)
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  • Explaining the Actuality Operator Away.John Mackay - 2017 - Philosophical Quarterly 67 (269):709-21.
    I argue that ‘actually’ does not have a reading according to which it is synonymous with the actuality operator of modal logic, and propose an alternative account of ‘actually’. The cases that have been thought to show that ‘actually’ is synonymous with the actuality operator are modal and counterfactual sentences in which an embedded clause's evaluation is held fixed at the world of the context. In these cases, though, this embedded clause's evaluation is not due to the presence of ‘actually’. (...)
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  • Simple Contextualism about Epistemic Modals Is Incorrect.Benjamin Lennertz - 2014 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (4):252-262.
    I argue against a simple contextualist account of epistemic modals. My argument, like the argument on which it is based , charges that simple contextualism cannot explain all of the conversational data about uses of epistemic modals. My argument improves on its predecessor by insulating itself from recent contextualist attempts by Janice Dowell and Igor Yanovich to get around that argument. In particular, I use linguistic data to show that an utterance of an epistemic modal sentence can be warranted, while (...)
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