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Epistemic Modals

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

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  1. 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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  • Subjective and Objective Reasons.Andrew Sepielli - forthcoming - In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford University Press.
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  • Instrumental Reasons.Niko Kolodny - forthcoming - In Daniel Star (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Reasons and Normativity. Oxford University Press.
    Often our reason for doing something is an "instrumental reason": that doing that is a means to doing something else that we have reason to do. What principles govern this "instrumental transmission" of reasons from ends to means? Negatively, I argue against principles often invoked in the literature, which focus on necessary or sufficient means. Positively, I propose a principle, "General Transmission," which answers to two intuitive desiderata: that reason transmits to means that are "probabilizing" and "nonsuperfluous" with respect to (...)
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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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  • Connectives Without Truth Tables.Nathan Klinedinst & Daniel Rothschild - 2012 - Natural Language Semantics 20 (2):137-175.
    There are certain uses of and and or that cannot be explained by their normal meanings as truth-functional connectives, even with sophisticated pragmatic resources. These include examples such as The cops show up, and a fight will break out (‘If the cops show up, a fight will break out’), and I have no friends, or I would throw a party (‘I have no friends. If I did have friends, I would throw a party.’). We argue that these uses are indeed (...)
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  • Epistemic Modality, Mind, and Mathematics.Hasen Khudairi - 2020 - Dissertation, University of St Andrews
    This book concerns the foundations of epistemic modality. I examine the nature of epistemic modality, when the modal operator is interpreted as concerning both apriority and conceivability, as well as states of knowledge and belief. The book demonstrates how epistemic modality relates to the computational theory of mind; metaphysical modality; deontic modality; the types of mathematical modality; to the epistemic status of undecidable propositions and abstraction principles in the philosophy of mathematics; to the apriori-aposteriori distinction; to the modal profile of (...)
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  • Evaluating the Multiple Proposition Strategy.Benjamin Lennertz - 2020 - Ratio 33 (3):163-172.
    Contextualism about many expressions faces a common objection: in some discourses it appears that there is no single interpretation which can explain how a speaker is justified in making her assertion and how a hearer with different information or standards is justified in negatively evaluating what the speaker said. According to the Multiple Proposition Strategy , contextualists may attempt to explain these competing features pragmatically in terms of different propositions in play. In this paper I argue against the Multiple Proposition (...)
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  • Veritism and the Normativity of Logic.Nader Shoaibi - forthcoming - Ratio.
    The idea that logic is in some sense normative for thought and reasoning is a familiar one. Some of the most prominent figures in the history of philosophy including Kant and Frege have been among its defenders. The most natural way of spelling out this idea is to formulate wide-scope deductive requirements on belief which rule out certain states as irrational. But what can account for the truth of such deductive requirements of rationality? By far, the most prominent responses draw (...)
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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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  • Truthmaker Semantics for Natural Language: Attitude Verbs, Modals, and Intensional Transitive Verbs.Friederike Moltmann - forthcoming - Theoretical Linguistics.
    This paper gives an outline of truthmaker semantics for natural language against the background of standard possible-worlds semantics. It develops a truthmaker semantics for attitude reports and deontic modals based on an ontology of attitudinal and modal objects and on a semantic function of clauses as predicates of such objects. It also présents new motivations for 'object-based truthmaker semantics' from intensional transitive verbs such as ‘need’, ‘look for’, ‘own’, and ‘buy’ and gives an outline of their semantics. This paper is (...)
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  • The Frege-Geach Problem and Blackburn’s Expressivism.Chi-Ho Hung & Chiu Yui Plato Tse - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (5):2021-2031.
    Blackburn has outlined a formal account for moral expressivism, and we argued that the moral Frege-Geach problem can be solved formally by appending two rules for the boo-operator which are missing from his account. We then extended Blackburn’s formal account to generate a similar solution to the problem in modal context and showed that the validity of the modal argument can be preserved too in modal expressivism. However, the higher-order element endorsed by Blackburn does not seem necessary for solving the (...)
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  • A Note on Conditionals and Restrictors.Daniel Rothschild - manuscript
    This note relates the Lewis/Kratzer view of conditionals as restrictors to the philosophical debate over the meaning of conditionals.
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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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  • No Context, No Content, No Problem.Ethan Nowak - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    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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  • 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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  • Do Indicative Conditionals Express Propositions?Daniel Rothschild - 2013 - Noûs 47 (1):49-68.
    Discusses how to capture the link between the probability of indicative conditionals and conditional probability using a classical semantics for conditionals.
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  • Believing at Will.Kieran Setiya - 2008 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 32 (1):36-52.
    Argues that we cannot form beliefs at will without failure of attention or logical confusion. The explanation builds on Williams' argument in "Deciding to Believe," attempting to resolve some well-known difficulties. The paper ends with tentative doubts about the idea of judgement as intentional action.
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  • Quasirealism as Semantic Dispensability.Derek Baker - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    I argue that standard explanationist solutions to the problem of creeping minimalism are largely on the right track, but they fail to correctly specify the kind of explanation that is relevant to distinguishing realism from quasirealism. Quasirealism should not be distinguished from realism in terms of the explanations it gives of why a normative judgment—a normative sentence or attitude—has the semantic content that it has. Rather, it should be distinguished in terms of the explanations it offers of what the semantic (...)
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  • Must, Knowledge, and (in)Directness.Daniel Lassiter - 2016 - Natural Language Semantics 24 (2):117-163.
    This paper presents corpus and experimental data that problematize the traditional analysis of must as a strong necessity modal, as recently revived and defended by von Fintel and Gillies :351–383, 2010). I provide naturalistic examples showing that must p can be used alongside an explicit denial of knowledge of p or certainty in p, and that it can be conjoined with an expression indicating that p is not certain or that not-p is possible. I also report the results of an (...)
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  • Modal Cognitivism and Modal Expressivism.Hasen Khudairi - manuscript
    This paper aims to provide a mathematically tractable background against which to model both modal cognitivism and modal expressivism. I argue that epistemic modal algebras comprise a materially adequate fragment of the language of thought. I demonstrate, then, how modal expressivism can be regimented by modal coalgebraic automata, to which the above epistemic modal algebras are dually isomorphic. I examine, in particular, the virtues unique to the modal expressivist approach here proffered in the setting of the foundations of mathematics, by (...)
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  • Prospects for an Expressivist Theory of Meaning.Nate Charlow - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15:1-43.
    Advocates of Expressivism about basically any kind of language are best-served by abandoning a traditional content-centric approach to semantic theorizing, in favor of an update-centric or dynamic approach (or so this paper argues). The type of dynamic approach developed here — in contrast to the content-centric approach — is argued to yield canonical, if not strictly classical, "explanations" of the core semantic properties of the connectives. (The cases on which I focus most here are negation and disjunction.) I end the (...)
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  • Practical Language: Its Meaning and Use.Nate Charlow - 2011 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
    I demonstrate that a "speech act" theory of meaning for imperatives is—contra a dominant position in philosophy and linguistics—theoretically desirable. A speech act-theoretic account of the meaning of an imperative !φ is characterized, broadly, by the following claims. -/- LINGUISTIC MEANING AS USE !φ’s meaning is a matter of the speech act an utterance of it conventionally functions to express—what a speaker conventionally uses it to do (its conventional discourse function, CDF). -/- IMPERATIVE USE AS PRACTICAL !φ's CDF is to (...)
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  • Credence for Epistemic Discourse.Paolo Santorio - manuscript
    Many recent theories of epistemic discourse exploit an informational notion of consequence, i.e. a notion that defines entailment as preservation of support by an information state. This paper investigates how informational consequence fits with probabilistic reasoning. I raise two problems. First, all informational inferences that are not also classical inferences are, intuitively, probabilistically invalid. Second, all these inferences can be exploited, in a systematic way, to generate triviality results. The informational theorist is left with two options, both of them radical: (...)
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  • Dynamic Semantics.Karen S. Lewis - 2017 - Oxford Handbooks Online.
    This article focuses on foundational issues in dynamic and static semantics, specifically on what is conceptually at stake between the dynamic framework and the truth-conditional framework, and consequently what kinds of evidence support each framework. The article examines two questions. First, it explores the consequences of taking the proposition as central semantic notion as characteristic of static semantics, and argues that this is not as limiting in accounting for discourse dynamics as many think. Specifically, it explores what it means for (...)
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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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  • Index, Context, and the Content of Knowledge.Brian Rabern - 2017 - In Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism. Routledge. pp. 465-479.
    The verb 'knows' is often taken to be context-sensitive in an interesting way. What 'knows' means seems to be sensitive to the epistemic features of the context, e.g. the epistemic standard in play, the set of relevant alternatives, etc. There are standard model-theoretic semantic frameworks which deal with both intensional operators and context-sensitive expressions. In this chapter, we provide a brief overview of the various moving parts of these frameworks, the roles of context and index, the need for double indexing, (...)
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  • On the Event Relativity of Modal Auxiliaries.Valentine Hacquard - 2010 - Natural Language Semantics 18 (1):79-114.
    Crosslinguistically, the same modal words can be used to express a wide range of interpretations. This crosslinguistic trend supports a Kratzerian analysis, where each modal has a core lexical entry and where the difference between an epistemic and a root interpretation is contextually determined. A long-standing problem for such a unified account is the equally robust crosslinguistic correlation between a modal’s interpretation and its syntactic behavior: epistemics scope high (in particular higher than tense and aspect) and roots low, a fact (...)
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  • Dynamic Non-Classicality.Matthew Mandelkern - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (2):382-392.
    I show that standard dynamic approaches to the semantics of epistemic modals invalidate the classical laws of excluded middle and non-contradiction, as well as the law of ‘epistemic non-contradicti...
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  • Indicative Conditionals and Graded Information.Ivano Ciardelli - 2020 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 49 (3):509-549.
    I propose an account of indicative conditionals that combines features of minimal change semantics and information semantics. As in information semantics, conditionals are interpreted relative to an information state in accordance with the Ramsey test idea: “if p then q” is supported at a state s iff q is supported at the hypothetical state s[p] obtained by restricting s to the p-worlds. However, information states are not modeled as simple sets of worlds, but by means of a Lewisian system of (...)
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  • Grading Modal Judgement.Nate Charlow - 2020 - Mind 129 (515):769-807.
    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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  • Atheistic Prayer.Shieva Kleinschmidt - 2017 - Faith and Philosophy 34 (2):152-175.
    In this paper I will argue, contrary to common assumptions, that rational atheistic prayer is possible. I will formulate and respond to two powerful arguments against the possibility of atheistic prayer: first, an argument that the act of prayer involves an intention to communicate to God, precluding disbelief in God’s existence; second, an argument claiming that reaching out to God through prayer requires believing God might exist, precluding rational disbelief in God. In showing options for response to these arguments, I (...)
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  • Logic Informed.Justin Bledin - 2014 - Mind 123 (490):277-316.
    Do logically valid arguments necessarily preserve truth? Certain inferences involving informational modal operators and indicative conditionals suggest that truth preservation and good deductive argument come apart. Given this split, I recommend an alternative to the standard truth preservation view of logic on which validity and good deductive argument coincide: logic is a descriptive science that is fundamentally concerned not with the preservation of truth, but with the preservation of structural features of information. Along the way, I defend modus ponens for (...)
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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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  • Semantics with Assignment Variables.Alex Silk - forthcoming - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    This book develops a syntactic and semantic framework for natural language. The principal focus is a spectrum of "shifting" phenomena in which the context relevant for interpreting certain expressions seems to depend on features of the linguistic environment. A key innovation is to introduce explicit representations of context in linguistic structure and meanings. Central applications include local and non-local contextual dependencies with quantifiers, attitude ascriptions, conditionals, questions, and relativization. The project integrates conceptual insights from contemporary philosophy of language, formal tools (...)
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  • First Order Expressivist Logic.John Cantwell - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (6):1381-1403.
    This paper provides finitary jointly necessary and sufficient acceptance and rejection conditions for the logical constants of a first order quantificational language. By introducing the notion of making an assignment as a distinct object level practice—something you do with a sentence—(as opposed to a meta-level semantic notion) and combining this with the practice of (hypothetical and categorical) acceptance and rejection and the practice of making suppositions one gains a structure that is sufficiently rich to fully characterize the class of classical (...)
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  • Semantic expressivism for epistemic modals.Peter Hawke & Shane Steinert-Threlkeld - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy:1-37.
    Expressivists about epistemic modals deny that ‘Jane might be late’ canonically serves to express the speaker’s acceptance of a certain propositional content. Instead, they hold that it expresses a lack of acceptance. Prominent expressivists embrace pragmatic expressivism: the doxastic property expressed by a declarative is not helpfully identified with that sentence’s compositional semantic value. Against this, we defend semantic expressivism about epistemic modals: the semantic value of a declarative from this domain is the property of doxastic attitudes it canonically serves (...)
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  • Theories of Meaning.Jeff Speaks - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  • A Counterexample to Modus Ponenses.Matthew Mandelkern - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (6):315-331.
    McGee argued that modus ponens was invalid for the natural language conditional ‘If…then…’. Many subsequent responses have argued that, while McGee’s examples show that modus ponens fails to preserve truth, they do not show that modus ponens fails to preserve rational full acceptance, and thus modus ponens may still be valid in the latter informational sense. I show that when we turn our attention from indicative conditionals to subjunctive conditionals, we find that modus ponens does not preserve either truth or (...)
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  • Embedded Attitudes.Kyle Blumberg & Ben Holguín - 2019 - Journal of Semantics 36 (3):377-406.
    This paper presents a puzzle involving embedded attitude reports. We resolve the puzzle by arguing that attitude verbs take restricted readings: in some environments the denotation of attitude verbs can be restricted by a given proposition. For example, when these verbs are embedded in the consequent of a conditional, they can be restricted by the proposition expressed by the conditional’s antecedent. We formulate and motivate two conditions on the availability of verb restrictions: a constraint that ties the content of restrictions (...)
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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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  • Modus Ponens and the Logic of Decision.Nate Charlow - manuscript
    If modus ponens is valid, then you should take up smoking.
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  • Revisionist Reporting.Kyle Blumberg & Harvey Lederman - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    Several theorists have observed that attitude reports have what we call “revisionist” uses. For example, even if Pete has never met Ann and has no idea that she exists, Jane can still say to Jim ‘Pete believes Ann can learn to play tennis in ten lessons’ if Pete believes all 6-year-olds can learn to play tennis in ten lessons and it is part of Jane and Jim’s background knowledge that Ann is a 6-year-old. Jane’s assertion seems acceptable because the claim (...)
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  • Fictional Reports.Pål Fjeldvig Antonsen - 2020 - Synthese:1-14.
    This paper outlines a bicontextual account of fictional reports. A fictional report is a report on something that happens in a fiction, and a bicontextual account is an account that relativizes truth to two contexts. The proposal is motivated by two considerations. First, it explains the intuitive truth conditions of fictional reports without postulating hidden fiction operators. Second, it handles the problem of indexicals in fictional reports better than the standard accounts.
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  • Epistemic Comparativism: A Contextualist Semantics for Knowledge Ascriptions.Jonathan Schaffer & Zoltan Gendler Szabo - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 168 (2):491-543.
    Knowledge ascriptions seem context sensitive. Yet it is widely thought that epistemic contextualism does not have a plausible semantic implementation. We aim to overcome this concern by articulating and defending an explicit contextualist semantics for ‘know,’ which integrates a fairly orthodox contextualist conception of knowledge as the elimination of the relevant alternatives, with a fairly orthodox “Amherst” semantics for A-quantification over a contextually variable domain of situations. Whatever problems epistemic contextualism might face, lack of an orthodox semantic implementation is not (...)
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  • General Dynamic Triviality Theorems.Jeffrey Sanford Russell & John Hawthorne - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (3):307-339.
    Famous results by David Lewis show that plausible-sounding constraints on the probabilities of conditionals or evaluative claims lead to unacceptable results, by standard probabilistic reasoning. Existing presentations of these results rely on stronger assumptions than they really need. When we strip these arguments down to a minimal core, we can see both how certain replies miss the mark, and also how to devise parallel arguments for other domains, including epistemic “might,” probability claims, claims about comparative value, and so on. A (...)
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  • Inferential Expressivism and the Negation Problem.Luca Incurvati & Julian J. Schlöder - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaethics 16.
    We develop a novel solution to the negation version of the Frege-Geach problem by taking up recent insights from the bilateral programme in logic. Bilateralists derive the meaning of negation from a primitive *B-type* inconsistency involving the attitudes of assent and dissent. Some may demand an explanation of this inconsistency in simpler terms, but we argue that bilateralism’s assumptions are no less explanatory than those of *A-type* semantics that only require a single primitive attitude, but must stipulate inconsistency elsewhere. Based (...)
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  • No Reasons to Believe the False.Javier González De Prado Salas - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (3):703-722.
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  • Talking About Worlds.Matthew Mandelkern - 2018 - Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1):298-325.
    I explore the logic of the conditional, using credence judgments to argue against Duality and in favor of Conditional Excluded Middle. I then explore how to give a theory of the conditional which validates the latter and not the former, developing a variant on Kratzer (1981)'s restrictor theory, as well as a proposal which combines Stalnaker (1968)'s theory of the conditional with the theory of epistemic modals I develop in Mandelkern 2019a. I argue that the latter approach fits naturally with (...)
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  • Frege’s Puzzle is Here to Stay: Triviality and Informativity in Natural Languages.Matheus Valente & Emiliano Boccardi - 2020 - Manuscrito 43 (1):115-150.
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  • Informative Identities: A Challenge for Frege's Puzzle.Elisa Paganini - 2016 - Dialectica 70 (4):513-530.
    Frege's puzzle about identity sentences has long challenged many philosophers to find a solution to it but also led other philosophers to object that the evidential datum it is grounded on is false. The present work is an elaboration of this second kind of reaction: it explains why Frege's puzzle seems to resist the traditional objection, giving voice to different and more elaborated presentations of the evidential datum, faithful to the spirit but not to the letter of Frege's puzzle. The (...)
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