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  1. Weak Assertion.Luca Incurvati & Julian J. Schlöder - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (277):741-770.
    We present an inferentialist account of the epistemic modal operator might. Our starting point is the bilateralist programme. A bilateralist explains the operator not in terms of the speech act of rejection ; we explain the operator might in terms of weak assertion, a speech act whose existence we argue for on the basis of linguistic evidence. We show that our account of might provides a solution to certain well-known puzzles about the semantics of modal vocabulary whilst retaining classical logic. (...)
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  • Conditionals, Context, and the Suppression Effect.Fabrizio Cariani & Lance J. Rips - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (3):540-589.
    Modus ponens is the argument from premises of the form If A, then B and A to the conclusion B. Nearly all participants agree that the modus ponens conclusion logically follows when the argument appears in this Basic form. However, adding a further premise can lower participants’ rate of agreement—an effect called suppression. We propose a theory of suppression that draws on contemporary ideas about conditional sentences in linguistics and philosophy. Semantically, the theory assumes that people interpret an indicative conditional (...)
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  • Quantification and Epistemic Modality.Dilip Ninan - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (4):433-485.
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  • Generalized Update Semantics.Simon Goldstein - 2019 - Mind 128 (511):795-835.
    This paper explores the relationship between dynamic and truth conditional semantics for epistemic modals. It provides a generalization of a standard dynamic update semantics for modals. This new semantics derives a Kripke semantics for modals and a standard dynamic semantics for modals as special cases. The semantics allows for new characterizations of a variety of principles in modal logic, including the inconsistency of ‘p and might not p’. Finally, the semantics provides a construction procedure for transforming any truth conditional semantics (...)
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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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  • Dynamic Thoughts on Ifs and Oughts.Malte Willer - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14:1-30.
    A dynamic semantics for iffy oughts offers an attractive alternative to the folklore that Chisholm's paradox enforces an unhappy choice between the intuitive inference rules of factual and deontic detachment. The first part of the story told here shows how a dynamic theory about ifs and oughts gives rise to a nonmonotonic perspective on deontic discourse and reasoning that elegantly removes the air of paradox from Chisholm's puzzle without sacrificing any of the two detachment principles. The second part of the (...)
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  • I Believe I Can Φ.Matthew Mandelkern, Ginger Schultheis & David Boylan - 2015 - In Thomas Brochhagen, Floris Roelofsen & Nadine Theiler (eds.), Proceedings of the 20th Amsterdam Colloquium. pp. 256-265.
    We propose a new analysis of ability modals. After briefly criticizing extant approaches, we turn our attention to the venerable but vexed conditional analysis of ability ascriptions. We give an account that builds on the conditional analysis, but avoids its weaknesses by incorporating a layer of quantification over a contextually supplied set of actions.
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Triviality Results For Probabilistic Modals.Goldstein Simon - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 99 (1):188-222.
    In recent years, a number of theorists have claimed that beliefs about probability are transparent. To believe probably p is simply to have a high credence that p. In this paper, I prove a variety of triviality results for theses like the above. I show that such claims are inconsistent with the thesis that probabilistic modal sentences have propositions or sets of worlds as their meaning. Then I consider the extent to which a dynamic semantics for probabilistic modals can capture (...)
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  • Agentive Modals.Matthew Mandelkern, Ginger Schultheis & David Boylan - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (3):301-343.
    This essay proposes a new theory of agentive modals: ability modals and their duals, compulsion modals. After criticizing existing approaches—the existential quantificational analysis, the universal quantificational analysis, and the conditional analysis—it presents a new account that builds on both the existential and conditional analyses. On this account, the act conditional analysis, a sentence like ‘John can swim across the river’ says that there is some practically available action that is such that if John tries to do it, he swims across (...)
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  • The Significance of Ethical Disagreement for Theories of Ethical Thought and Talk.Gunnar Björnsson - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 275-291.
    This chapter has two sections, each focusing on a distinct way in which ethical disagreement and variations in ethical judgment matter for theories of ethical thought and talk. In the first section, we look at how the variation poses problems for both cognitivist and non-cognitivist ways of specifying the nature of ethical judgments. In the second, we look at how disagreement phenomena have been taken to undermine cognitivist accounts, but also at how the seeming variation in cognitive and non-cognitive contents (...)
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  • On the Meaning of 'Therefore'.Carlotta Pavese - 2017 - Analysis 77 (1):88-97.
    I argue for an analysis of ‘therefore’ as presupposition trigger against the more standard conventional implicature story originally put forward by Grice (1975). I propose that we model the relevant presupposition as “testing” the context in a way that is similar to how, according to some dynamic treatments of epistemic `must', ‘must’ tests the context. But whereas the presupposition analysis is plausible for ‘therefore’, ‘must’ is not plausibly a presupposition trigger. Moreover, whereas ‘must’ can naturally occur under a supposition, the (...)
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  • 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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  • An Update on Epistemic Modals.Malte Willer - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 44 (6):835–849.
    Epistemic modals are a prominent topic in the literature on natural language semantics, with wide-ranging implications for issues in philosophy of language and philosophical logic. Considerations about the role that epistemic "might" and "must" play in discourse and reasoning have led to the development of several important alternatives to classical possible worlds semantics for natural language modal expressions. This is an opinionated overview of what I take to be some of the most exciting issues and developments in the field.
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  • Decision-Theoretic Relativity in Deontic Modality.Nate Charlow - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (3):251-287.
    This paper explores the idea that a semantics for ‘ought’ should be neutral between different ways of deciding what an agent ought to do in a situation. While the idea is, I argue, well-motivated, taking it seriously leads to surprising, even paradoxical, problems for theorizing about the meaning of ‘ought’. This paper describes and defends one strategy—a form of Expressivism for the modal ‘ought’—for navigating these problems.
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  • Quasi Indexicals.Justin Khoo - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    I argue that not all context dependent expressions are alike. Pure (or ordinary) indexicals behave more or less as Kaplan thought. But quasi indexicals behave in some ways like indexicals and in other ways not like indexicals. A quasi indexical sentence φ allows for cases in which one party utters φ and the other its negation, and neither party’s claim has to be false. In this sense, quasi indexicals are like pure indexicals (think: “I am a doctor”/“I am not a (...)
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  • 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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  • 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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  • Subjective Disagreement.Beddor Bob - forthcoming - Noûs.
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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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Might Do Better: Flexible Relativism and the QUD.Bob Beddor & Andy Egan - 2018 - Semantics and Pragmatics 11.
    The past decade has seen a protracted debate over the semantics of epistemic modals. According to contextualists, epistemic modals quantify over the possibilities compatible with some contextually determined group’s information. Relativists often object that contextualism fails to do justice to the way we assess utterances containing epistemic modals for truth or falsity. However, recent empirical work seems to cast doubt on the relativist’s claim, suggesting that ordinary speakers’ judgments about epistemic modals are more closely in line with contextualism than relativism (...)
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  • Modals Under Epistemic Tension.Guillermo Del Pinal & Brandon Waldon - 2019 - Natural Language Semantics 27 (2):135-188.
    According to Kratzer’s influential account of epistemic 'must' and 'might', these operators involve quantification over domains of possibilities determined by a modal base and an ordering source. Recently, this account has been challenged by invoking contexts of ‘epistemic tension’: i.e., cases in which an assertion that 'must p' is conjoined with the possibility that 'not p', and cases in which speakers try to downplay a previous assertion that 'must p', after finding out that 'not p'. Epistemic tensions have been invoked (...)
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  • Expressing Credences.Daniel Rothschild - 2012 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (1pt1):99-114.
    After presenting a simple expressivist account of reports of probabilistic judgements, I explore a classic problem for it, namely the Frege-Geach problem. I argue that it is a problem not just for expressivism but for any reasonable account of ascriptions of graded judgements. I suggest that the problem can be resolved by appropriately modelling imprecise credences.
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  • Grading Modal Judgment.Nate Charlow - forthcoming - Mind.
    This paper proposes a new 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 epistemically modal propositions. This paper considers two alternative models, on which modal operators are non-proposition-forming: (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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  • Fatalism and the Logic of Unconditionals.Justin Bledin - forthcoming - Noûs.
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  • Three Notions of Dynamicness in Language.Daniel Rothschild & Seth Yalcin - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (4):333-355.
    We distinguish three ways that a theory of linguistic meaning and communication might be considered dynamic in character. We provide some examples of systems which are dynamic in some of these senses but not others. We suggest that separating these notions can help to clarify what is at issue in particular debates about dynamic versus static approaches within natural language semantics and pragmatics.
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  • Moral Disagreement and Moral Semantics.Justin Khoo & Joshua Knobe - 2016 - Noûs:109-143.
    When speakers utter conflicting moral sentences, it seems clear that they disagree. It has often been suggested that the fact that the speakers disagree gives us evidence for a claim about the semantics of the sentences they are uttering. Specifically, it has been suggested that the existence of the disagreement gives us reason to infer that there must be an incompatibility between the contents of these sentences. This inference then plays a key role in a now-standard argument against certain theories (...)
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  • Belief as Question‐Sensitive.Seth Yalcin - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (1):23-47.
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  • Taking 'Might'‐Communication Seriously.Benjamin Lennertz - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (2):176-198.
    In this paper, I show that, given seemingly plausible assumptions about the epistemic ‘might’ and conditionals, we cannot explain why in some circumstances it is appropriate to utter conditional ‘might’-sentences, like “If Angelica has crumbs in her pocket, then she might be the thief” and not the corresponding simple ones, like “Angelica might be the thief.” So, one of our assumptions must be incorrect. I argue that the root of the problem is an umbrella thesis about the pragmatics of ‘might’-communication (...)
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  • Quantificational Credences.Benjamin Lennertz - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
    In addition to full beliefs, agents have attitudes of varying confidence, or credences. For instance, I do not believe that the Boston Red Sox will win the American League East this year, but I am at least a little bit confident that they will – i.e. I have a positive credence that they will. It is also common to think that agents have conditional credences. For instance, I am very confident – i.e. have a conditional credence of very-likely strength – (...)
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  • Epistemic Modals and Context: Experimental Data.Joshua Knobe & Seth Yalcin - 2014 - Semantics and Pragmatics 7 (10):1-21.
    Recently, a number of theorists (MacFarlane (2003, 2011), Egan et al. (2005), Egan (2007), Stephenson (2007a,b)) have argued that an adequate semantics and pragmatics for epistemic modals calls for some technical notion of relativist truth and/or relativist content. Much of this work has relied on an empirical thesis about speaker judgments, namely that competent speakers tend to judge a present-tense bare epistemic possibility claim true only if the prejacent is compatible with their information. Relativists have in particular appealed to judgments (...)
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  • Lessons From Sobel Sequences.Malte Willer - forthcoming - Semantics and Pragmatics.
    Folklore has it that Sobel sequences favor a variably strict analysis of conditionals over its plainly strict alternative. While recent discussions for or against the lore have focussed on Sobel sequences involving counterfactuals, this paper draws attention to the fact that indicative Sobel sequences are just as felicitous as are their counterfactual cousins. The fact, or so I shall argue here, disrupts the folklore: given minimal assumptions about the semantics and pragmatics of indicative conditionals, a textbook variably strict analysis fails (...)
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  • VI-BayesianExpressivism.Seth Yalcin - 2012 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (2pt2):123-160.
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  • Open Questions and Epistemic Necessity.Brett Sherman - 2018 - Philosophical Quarterly 68 (273):819-840.
    Why can I not appropriately utter ‘It must be raining’ while standing outside in the rain, even though every world consistent with my knowledge is one in which it is raining? The common response to this problem is to hold that epistemic must, in addition to quantifying over epistemic possibilities, carries some additional evidential information concerning the source of one'S evidence. I argue that this is a mistake: epistemic modals are mere quantifiers over epistemic possibilities. My central claim is that (...)
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  • Informational Dynamics of Epistemic Possibility Modals.Peter Hawke & Shane Steinert-Threlkeld - 2018 - Synthese 195 (10):4309-4342.
    We investigate, in a logical setting, the expressivist proposal that assertion primarily functions to express and coordinate doxastic states and that ‘might’ fundamentally expresses lack of belief. We provide a formal model of an agent’s doxastic state and novel assertability conditions for an associated formal language. We thereby prove that an arbitrary assertion always succeeds in expressing a well-defined doxastic state, and propose a fully general and intuitive update operation as a model of an agent coming to accept an arbitrary (...)
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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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  • Closure and Epistemic Modals.Justin Bledin & Tamar Lando - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (1):3-22.
    According to a popular closure principle for epistemic justification, if one is justified in believing each of the premises in set Φ and one comes to believe that ψ on the basis of competently deducing ψ from Φ—while retaining justified beliefs in the premises—then one is justified in believing that ψ. This principle is prima facie compelling; it seems to capture the sense in which competent deduction is an epistemically secure means to extend belief. However, even the single-premise version of (...)
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  • The Semantic Roots of Positive Polarity: Epistemic Modal Verbs and Adverbs in English, Greek and Italian.Anastasia Giannakidou & Alda Mari - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (6):623-664.
    Epistemic modal verbs and adverbs of necessity are claimed to be positive polarity items. We study their behavior by examining modal spread, a phenomenon that appears redundant or even anomalous, since it involves two apparent modal operators being interpreted as a single modality. We propose an analysis in which the modal adverb is an argument of the MUST modal, providing a meta-evaluation \ which ranks the Ideal, stereotypical worlds in the modal base as better possibilities than the Non-Ideal worlds in (...)
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  • Might-Beliefs and Asymmetric Disagreement.Benjamin Lennertz - forthcoming - Synthese.
    What we can call asymmetric disagreement occurs when one agent is in disagreement with another, but not vice-versa. In this paper, I give an example of and develop a framework for understanding this phenomenon. One pivotal feature of my example is that one of the agents in the scenario has a belief about what might be the case—a might-belief. I show that a traditional account of might-beliefs and disagreement cannot explain the initially surprising phenomenon of asymmetric disagreement. In order to (...)
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  • Simplifying with Free Choice.Malte Willer - 2018 - Topoi 37 (3):379-392.
    This paper offers a unified semantic explanation of two observations that prove to be problematic for classical analyses of modals, conditionals, and disjunctions: the fact that disjunctions scoping under possibility modals give rise to the free choice effect and the fact that counterfactuals license simplification of disjunctive antecedents. It shows that the data are well explained by a dynamic semantic analysis of modals and conditionals that uses ideas from the inquisitive semantic tradition in its treatment of disjunction. The analysis explains (...)
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  • How to Embed an Epistemic Modal: Attitude Problems and Other Defects of Character.Alex Silk - 2017 - Philosophical Studies 174 (7):1773-1799.
    This paper develops a contextualist account of certain recalcitrant embedding phenomena with epistemic modals. I focus on three prominent objections to contextualism from embedding: first, that contextualism mischaracterizes subjects’ states of mind; second, that contextualism fails to predict how epistemic modals are obligatorily linked to the subject in attitude ascriptions; and third, that contextualism fails to explain the persisting anomalousness of so-called “epistemic contradictions” in suppositional contexts. Contextualists have inadequately appreciated the force of these objections. Drawing on a more general (...)
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  • 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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  • What Difference Might and May Make.Gerhard Nuffer - 2015 - Synthese 192 (2):405-429.
    How does your information change when you learn that something might be the case, where the modal “might” is epistemic? On the orthodox view, a proposition is added to your information base; on the view defended here, no propositions are added to your information base but some are removed from it. I argue that Stephen Yablo’s recent attempt to define this removal operation as a kind of propositional subtraction fails, offer a definition of my own in terms of the part–whole (...)
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  • The Revenge of the Semantics‐Pragmatics Distinction.Josh Dever - 2013 - Philosophical Perspectives 27 (1):104-144.
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