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Epistemic Modals

Mind 116 (464):983-1026 (2007)

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  1. Triviality and the logic of restricted quantification.Nate Charlow - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-21.
    This paper clarifies the relationship between the Triviality Results for the conditional and the Restrictor Theory of the conditional. On the understanding of Triviality proposed here, it is implausible—pace many proponents of the Restrictor Theory—that Triviality rests on a syntactic error. As argued here, Triviality arises from simply mistaking the feature a claim has when that claim is logically unacceptable for the feature a claim has when that claim is unsatisfiable. Triviality rests on a semantic confusion—one which some semantic theories, (...)
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  • Two accounts of assertion.Martin Smith - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-18.
    In this paper I will compare two competing accounts of assertion: the knowledge account and the justified belief account. When it comes to the evidence that is typically used to assess accounts of assertion – including the evidence from lottery propositions, the evidence from Moore’s paradoxical propositions and the evidence from conversational patterns – I will argue that the justified belief account has at least as much explanatory power as its rival. I will argue, finally, that a close look at (...)
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  • Epistemic Contradictions Do Not Threaten Classical Logic.Philipp Mayr - 2022 - Acta Analytica 37 (4):551-573.
    Epistemic contradictions are now a well-known and often discussed phenomenon among those who study epistemic modals. These contradictions are expressed by sentences like ‘It is raining and it might not be raining’ whose oddness to the common ear demands an explanation. However, it has turned out to be a rather controversial enterprise to provide such an explanation in a sufficiently precise and general manner. According to pragmatic explanations, epistemic contradictions are semantically consistent but pragmatically defective. According to semantic explanations, one (...)
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  • A Two-Dimensional Logic for Two Paradoxes of Deontic Modality.Fusco Melissa & Kocurek Alexander - forthcoming - Review of Symbolic Logic.
    In this paper, we axiomatize the deontic logic in Fusco 2015, which uses a Stalnaker-inspired account of diagonal acceptance and a two-dimensional account of disjunction to treat Ross’s Paradox and the Puzzle of Free Choice Permission. On this account, disjunction-involving validities are a priori rather than necessary. We show how to axiomatize two-dimensional disjunction so that the introduction/elimination rules for boolean disjunction can be viewed as one-dimensional projections of more general two-dimensional rules. These completeness results help make explicit the restrictions (...)
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  • Context and Coherence: The Logic and Grammar of Prominence, by Una Stojnić.Justin Khoo - forthcoming - Mind.
    According to long-standing orthodoxy in contemporary analytic philosophy of language, the content of a sentence (that is, the information it encodes and what on.
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  • Fallibilism and the Certainty Norm of Assertion.Jacques-Henri Vollet - forthcoming - Topoi:1-7.
    Among the main reactions to scepticism, fallibilism is certainly the most popular nowadays. However, fallibilism faces a very strong and well-known objection. It has to grant that concessive knowledge attributions—assertions of the form “I know that p but it might be that not p”—can be true. Yet, these assertions plainly sound incoherent. Fallibilists have proposed to explain this incoherence pragmatically. The main proponents of this approach appeal to Gricean implicatures (Rysiew in Noûs 35(4):477514, 2001; Dougherty and Rysiew in Philos Phenomenol (...)
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  • Handling rejection.Derek Baker & Jack Woods - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (1):159-190.
    This paper has two related goals. First, we develop an expressivist account of negation which, in the spirit of Alan Gibbard, treats disagreement as semantically primitive. Our second goal is to make progress toward a unified expressivist treatment of modality. Metaethical expressivists must be expressivists about deontic modal claims. But then metaethical expressivists must either extend their expressivism to include epistemic and alethic modals, or else accept a semantics for modal expressions that is radically disjunctive. We propose that expressivists look (...)
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  • Counterfactuals and modality.Gabriel Greenberg - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (6):1255-1280.
    This essay calls attention to a set of linguistic interactions between counterfactual conditionals, on one hand, and possibility modals like could have and might have, on the other. These data present a challenge to the popular variably strict semantics for counterfactual conditionals. Instead, they support a version of the strict conditional semantics in which counterfactuals and possibility modals share a unified quantificational domain. I’ll argue that pragmatic explanations of this evidence are not available to the variable analysis. And putative counterexamples (...)
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  • True lies and Moorean redundancy.Alex Wiegmann & Emanuel Viebahn - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13053-13066.
    According to the subjective view of lying, speakers can lie by asserting a true proposition, as long as they believe this proposition to be false. This view contrasts with the objective view, according to which lying requires the actual falsity of the proposition asserted. The aim of this paper is to draw attention to pairs of assertions that differ only in intuitively redundant content and to show that such pairs of assertions are a reason to favour the subjective view of (...)
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  • Noncognitivism Without Expressivism.Bob Beddor - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    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 against this 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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  • Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 9.Emar Maier, Corien Bary & Janneke Huitink (eds.) - 2005 - Nijmegen Centre for Semantics.
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  • Meta-inferences and Supervaluationism.Luca Incurvati & Julian J. Schlöder - 2022 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 51 (6):1549-1582.
    Many classically valid meta-inferences fail in a standard supervaluationist framework. This allegedly prevents supervaluationism from offering an account of good deductive reasoning. We provide a proof system for supervaluationist logic which includes supervaluationistically acceptable versions of the classical meta-inferences. The proof system emerges naturally by thinking of truth as licensing assertion, falsity as licensing negative assertion and lack of truth-value as licensing rejection and weak assertion. Moreover, the proof system respects well-known criteria for the admissibility of inference rules. Thus, supervaluationists (...)
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  • Probabilistic semantics for epistemic modals: Normality assumptions, conditional epistemic spaces and the strength of must and might.Guillermo Del Pinal - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (4):985-1026.
    The epistemic modal auxiliaries must and might are vehicles for expressing the force with which a proposition follows from some body of evidence or information. Standard approaches model these operators using quantificational modal logic, but probabilistic approaches are becoming increasingly influential. According to a traditional view, must is a maximally strong epistemic operator and might is a bare possibility one. A competing account—popular amongst proponents of a probabilisitic turn—says that, given a body of evidence, must \ entails that \\) is (...)
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  • Acceptance and Certainty, Doxastic Modals, and Indicative Conditionals.Kurt Norlin - 2022 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 51 (5):951-971.
    I give a semantics for a logic with two pairs of doxastic modals and an indicative conditional connective that all nest without restriction. Sentences are evaluated as accepted, rejected, or neither. Certainty is the necessity-like modality of acceptance. Inferences may proceed from premises that are certain, or merely accepted, or a mix of both. This semantic setup yields some striking results. Notably, the existence of inferences that preserve certainty but not acceptance very directly implies both failure of modus ponens for (...)
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  • Propositions as (Flexible) Types of Possibilities.Nate Charlow - forthcoming - In Chris Tillman & Adam Russell Murray (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Propositions. Routledge.
    // tl;dr A Proposition is a Way of Thinking // -/- This chapter is about type-theoretic approaches to propositional content. Type-theoretic approaches to propositional content originate with Hintikka, Stalnaker, and Lewis, and involve treating attitude environments (e.g. "Nate thinks") as universal quantifiers over domains of "doxastic possibilities" -- ways things could be, given what the subject thinks. -/- This chapter introduces and motivates a line of a type-theoretic theorizing about content that is an outgrowth of the recent literature on epistemic (...)
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  • Assessment Sensitivity: Relative Truth and its Applications.John Gordon MacFarlane - 2014 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    John MacFarlane explores how we might make sense of the idea that truth is relative. He provides new, satisfying accounts of parts of our thought and talk that have resisted traditional methods of analysis, including what we mean when we talk about what is tasty, what we know, what will happen, what might be the case, and what we ought to do.
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  • Epistemic multilateral logic.Luca Incurvati & Julian J. Schlöder - 2020 - Review of Symbolic Logic:1-32.
    We present epistemic multilateral logic, a general logical framework for reasoning involving epistemic modality. Standard bilateral systems use propositional formulae marked with signs for assertion and rejection. Epistemic multilateral logic extends standard bilateral systems with a sign for the speech act of weak assertion (Incurvati and Schlöder 2019) and an operator for epistemic modality. We prove that epistemic multilateral logic is sound and complete with respect to the modal logic S5 modulo an appropriate translation. The logical framework developed provides the (...)
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  • Narrative testimony.Rachel Fraser - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (12):4025-4052.
    Epistemologists of testimony have focused almost exclusively on the epistemic dynamics of simple testimony. We do sometimes testify by ways of simple, single sentence assertions. But much of our testimony is narratively structured. I argue that narrative testimony gives rise to a form of epistemic dependence that is far richer and more far reaching than the epistemic dependence characteristic of simple testimony.
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  • Probability Modals and Infinite Domains.Adam Marushak - 2020 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 49 (5):1041-1055.
    Recent years have witnessed a proliferation of attempts to apply the mathematical theory of probability to the semantics of natural language probability talk. These sorts of “probabilistic” semantics are often motivated by their ability to explain intuitions about inferences involving “likely” and “probably”—intuitions that Angelika Kratzer’s canonical semantics fails to accommodate through a semantics based solely on an ordering of worlds and a qualitative ranking of propositions. However, recent work by Wesley Holliday and Thomas Icard has been widely thought to (...)
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  • Expressivism about explanatory relevance.Josh Hunt - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-27.
    Accounts of scientific explanation disagree about what’s required for a cause, law, or other fact to be a reason why an event occurs. In short, they disagree about the conditions for explanatory relevance. Nonetheless, most accounts presuppose that claims about explanatory relevance play a descriptive role in tracking reality. By rejecting the need for this descriptivist assumption, I develop an expressivist account of explanatory relevance and explanation: to judge that an answer is explanatory is to express an attitude of being (...)
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  • A Two-Dimensional Logic for Two Paradoxes of Deontic Modality.Melissa Fusco & Alexander W. Kocurek - 2022 - Review of Symbolic Logic 15 (4):991-1022.
    In this paper, we axiomatize the deontic logic in Fusco (2015), which uses a Stalnaker-inspired account of diagonal acceptance and a two-dimensional account of disjunction to treat Ross’s Paradox and the Puzzle of Free Choice Permission. On this account, disjunction-involving validities are a priori rather than necessary. We show how to axiomatize two-dimensional disjunction so that the introduction/elimination rules for boolean disjunction can be viewed as one-dimensional projections of more general two-dimensional rules. These completeness results help make explicit the restrictions (...)
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  • An Expressivist Analysis of the Indicative Conditional with a Restrictor Semantics.John Cantwell - 2021 - Review of Symbolic Logic 14 (2):487-530.
    A globally expressivist analysis of the indicative conditional based on the Ramsey Test is presented. The analysis is a form of ‘global’ expressivism in that it supplies acceptance and rejection conditions for all the sentence forming connectives of propositional logic (negation, disjunction, etc.) and so allows the conditional to embed in arbitrarily complex sentences (thus avoiding the Frege–Geach problem). The expressivist framework is semantically characterized in a restrictor semantics due to Vann McGee, and is completely axiomatized in a logic dubbed (...)
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  • Probabilities of conditionals: updating Adams.Ivano Ciardelli & Adrian Ommundsen - forthcoming - Noûs.
    The problem of probabilities of conditionals is one of the long-standing puzzles in philosophy of language. We defend and update Adams' solution to the puzzle: the probability of an epistemic conditional is not the probability of a proposition, but a probability under a supposition.Close inspection of how a triviality result unfolds in a concrete scenario does not provide counterexamples to the view that probabilities of conditionals are conditional probabilities: instead, it supports the conclusion that probabilities of conditionals violate standard probability (...)
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  • Dutch‐Booking Indicative Conditionals.Melissa Fusco - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Recent literature on Stalnaker's Thesis, which seeks to vindicate it from Lewis (1976)'s triviality results, has featured linguistic data that is prima facie incompatible with Conditionalization in iterated cases (McGee 1989, 2000; Kaufmann 2015; Khoo & Santorio, 2018). In a recent paper (2021), Goldstein & Santorio make a bold claim: they hold that these departures light the way to a new, non-conditionalizing theory of rational update.Here, I consider whether this new form of update is subject to a Dutch book. On (...)
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  • Noncognitivism and the Frege‐Geach Problem in Formal Epistemology.Benjamin Lennertz - 2021 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 102 (1):184-208.
    This paper makes explicit the way in which many theorists of the epistemology of uncertainty, or formal epistemologists, are committed to a version of noncognitivism—one about thoughts that something is likely. It does so by drawing an analogy with metaethical noncognitivism. I explore the degree to which the motivations for both views are similar and how both views have to grapple with the Frege‐Geach Problem about complex thoughts. The major upshot of recognizing this noncognitivism is that it presents challenges and (...)
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  • Publishing without belief.Alexandra Plakias - 2019 - Analysis 79 (4):638-646.
    Is there anything wrong with publishing philosophical work which one does not believe (publishing without belief, henceforth referred to as ‘PWB’)? I argue that there is not: the practice isn’t intrinsically wrong, nor is there a compelling consequentialist argument against it. Therefore, the philosophical community should neither proscribe nor sanction it. The paper proceeds as follows. First, I’ll clarify and motivate the problem, using both hypothetical examples and a recent real-world case. Next, I’ll look at arguments that there is something (...)
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  • A Puzzle about Imagining Believing.Alon Chasid - 2021 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 13 (3):529-547.
    Suppose you’re imagining that it’s raining hard. You then proceed to imagine, as part of the same imaginative project, that you believe that it isn’t raining. Such an imaginative project is possible if the two imaginings arise in succession. But what about simultaneously imagining that it’s raining and that you believe that it isn’t raining? I will argue that, under certain conditions, such an imagining is impossible. After discussing these conditions, I will suggest an explanation of this impossibility. Elaborating on (...)
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  • Attitude Verbs' Local Context.Kyle Blumberg & Simon Goldstein - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy:1–25.
    Schlenker 2009, 2010a,b provides an algorithm for deriving the presupposition projection properties of an expression from that expression’s classical semantics. In this paper, we consider the predictions of Schlenker’s algorithm as applied to attitude verbs. More specifically, we compare Schlenker’s theory with a prominent view which maintains that attitudes exhibit belief projection, so that presupposition triggers in their scope imply that the attitude holder believes the presupposition (Kartunnen, 1974; Heim, 1992; Sudo, 2014). We show that Schlenker’s theory does not predict (...)
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  • Stalnaker’s assertoric contents.Cem Şişkolar - 2023 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 66 (1):48-67.
    I compare Stalnaker’s early take on assertoric content with the one expressed in his recent book (2014). I discern in the latter some striking implications about the semantics of proper names and assertoric content’s relation to semantics.
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  • Non-Measurability, Imprecise Credences, and Imprecise Chances.Yoaav Isaacs, Alan Hájek & John Hawthorne - 2021 - Mind 131 (523):892-916.
    – We offer a new motivation for imprecise probabilities. We argue that there are propositions to which precise probability cannot be assigned, but to which imprecise probability can be assigned. In such cases the alternative to imprecise probability is not precise probability, but no probability at all. And an imprecise probability is substantially better than no probability at all. Our argument is based on the mathematical phenomenon of non-measurable sets. Non-measurable propositions cannot receive precise probabilities, but there is a natural (...)
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  • Does Chance Undermine Would?Alexander W. Kocurek - 2021 - Mind 131 (523):747-785.
    Counterfactual scepticism holds that most ordinary counterfactuals are false. The main argument for this view appeals to a ‘chance undermines would’ principle: if ψ would have some chance of not obtaining had ϕ obtained, then ϕ □→ ψ is false. This principle seems to follow from two fairly weak principles, namely, that ‘chance ensures could’ and that ϕ □→ ψ and ϕ ⋄→ ¬ ψ clash. Despite their initial plausibility, I show that these principles are independently problematic: given some modest (...)
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  • Gender in conditionals.Sandro Zucchi & Fabio Del Prete - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (4):953-980.
    The 3sg pronouns “he” and “she” impose descriptive gender conditions on their referents. These conditions are standardly analysed as presuppositions. Cooper argues that, when 3sg pronouns occur free, they have indexical presuppositions: the gender condition must be satisfied by the pronoun’s referent in the actual world. In this paper, we consider the behaviour of free 3sg pronouns in conditionals and focus on cases in which the pronouns’ gender presuppositions no longer seem to be indexical and project locally instead. We compare (...)
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  • Epistemic Modals and Sensitivity to Contextually‐Salient Partitions.Andy Demfree Yu - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (2):134-146.
    Expressivists and relativists about epistemic modals often motivate their view by arguing against contextualist treatments of certain cases. However, I argue that even expressivists and relativists should consider being a kind of contextualist. Specifically, data involving mixed disjunctions motivate taking epistemic modals to be sensitive to contextually-salient partitions, and thus context-sensitive.
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  • VI-BayesianExpressivism.Seth Yalcin - 2012 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (2pt2):123-160.
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  • Probability Operators.Seth Yalcin - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (11):916-37.
    This is a study in the meaning of natural language probability operators, sentential operators such as probably and likely. We ask what sort of formal structure is required to model the logic and semantics of these operators. Along the way we investigate their deep connections to indicative conditionals and epistemic modals, probe their scalar structure, observe their sensitivity to contex- tually salient contrasts, and explore some of their scopal idiosyncrasies.
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  • More on epistemic modals.Seth Yalcin - 2009 - Mind 118 (471):785-793.
    I respond to comments by David Barnett and Roy Sorensen on my paper ‘Epistemic Modals’.
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  • Belief as Question‐Sensitive.Seth Yalcin - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (1):23-47.
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  • A Counterexample to Modus Tollens.Seth Yalcin - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 41 (6):1001-1024.
    This paper defends a counterexample to Modus Tollens, and uses it to draw some conclusions about the logic and semantics of indicative conditionals and probability operators in natural language. Along the way we investigate some of the interactions of these expressions with 'knows', and we call into question the thesis that all knowledge ascriptions have truth-conditions.
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  • Epistemic Modality De Re.Seth Yalcin - 2015 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2:475-527.
    Focusing on cases which involve binding into epistemic modals with definite descriptions and quantifiers, I raise some new problems for standard approaches to all of these expressions. The difficulties are resolved in a semantic framework that is dynamic in character. I close with a new class of problems about de re readings within the scope of modals.
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  • 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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  • New surprises for the Ramsey Test.Malte Willer - 2010 - Synthese 176 (2):291 - 309.
    In contemporary discussions of the Ramsey Test for conditionals, it is commonly held that (i) supposing the antecedent of a conditional is adopting a potential state of full belief, and (ii) Modus Ponens is a valid rule of inference. I argue on the basis of Thomason Conditionals (such as ' If Sally is deceiving, I do not believe it') and Moore's Paradox that both claims are wrong. I then develop a double-indexed Update Semantics for conditionals which takes these two results (...)
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  • Dynamics of Epistemic Modality.Malte Willer - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (1):45-92.
    A dynamic semantics for epistemically modalized sentences is an attractive alternative to the orthodox view that our best theory of meaning ascribes to such sentences truth-conditions relative to what is known. This essay demonstrates that a dynamic theory about might and must offers elegant explanations of a range of puzzling observations about epistemic modals. The first part of the story offers a unifying treatment of disputes about epistemic modality and disputes about matters of fact while at the same time avoiding (...)
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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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  • A Remark on Iffy Oughts.Malte Willer - 2012 - Journal of Philosophy 109 (7):449-461.
    Every adequate semantics for conditionals and deontic ought must offer a solution to the miners paradox about conditional obligations. Kolodny and MacFarlane have recently argued that such a semantics must reject the validity of modus ponens. I demonstrate that rejecting the validity of modus ponens is inessential for an adequate solution to the paradox.
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  • Advice for Noncognitivists.Malte Willer - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):174–207.
    Metaethical noncognitivists have trouble arriving at a respectable semantic theory for moral language. The goal of this article is to make substantial progress toward demonstrating that these problems may be overcome. Replacing the predominant expressivist semantic agenda in metaethics with a dynamic perspective on meaning and communication allows noncognitivists to provide a satisfying analysis of negation and other constructions that have been argued to be problematic for metaethical noncognitivism, including disjunctions. The resulting proposal preserves some of the key insights from (...)
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  • The Bayesian and the Dogmatist.Brian Weatherson - 2007 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt2):169-185.
    Dogmatism is sometimes thought to be incompatible with Bayesian models of rational learning. I show that the best model for updating imprecise credences is compatible with dogmatism.
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  • Updating on Biased Probabilistic Testimony.Leander Vignero - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-24.
    In this paper, I use a framework from computational linguistics, the Rational Speech Act framework, to model deceptive probabilistic communication. This account allows agents to discount for the biases they perceive their interlocutors to have. This way, agents can update their credences with the perceived interests of others in mind.
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  • Counterpossibles (not only) for dispositionalists.Barbara Vetter - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2681-2700.
    Dispositionalists try to provide an account of modality—possibility, necessity, and the counterfactual conditional—in terms of dispositions. But there may be a tension between dispositionalist accounts of possibility on the one hand, and of counterfactuals on the other. Dispositionalists about possibility must hold that there are no impossible dispositions, i.e., dispositions with metaphysically impossible stimulus and/or manifestation conditions; dispositionalist accounts of counterfactuals, if they allow for non-vacuous counterpossibles, require that there are such impossible dispositions. I argue, first, that there are in (...)
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  • On the epistemic status of borderline cases.Zoltán Vecsey - 2012 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 16 (1):179-184.
    http://dx.doi.org/10.5007/1808-1711.2012v16n1p179 Neste artigo, sustento que a explicação epistemicista da vagueza não pode estar inteiramente correta. Depois de analisar os aspectos principais da concepção de Williamson, proponho uma nova abordagem ao problema epistemológico dos casos fronteiriços.
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  • Natural Language and Logic of Agency.Johan van Benthem - 2014 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 23 (3):367-382.
    This light piece reflects on analogies between two often disjoint streams of research: the logical semantics and pragmatics of natural language and dynamic logics of general information-driven agency. The two areas show significant overlap in themes and tools, and yet, the focus seems subtly different in each, defying a simple comparison. We discuss some unusual questions that emerge when the two are put side by side, without any pretense at covering the whole literature or at reaching definitive conclusions.
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