Agentive Free Choice

Journal of Philosophical Logic:1-31 (forthcoming)
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The Free Choice effect---whereby <>(p or q) seems to entail both <>p and <>q---has traditionally been characterized as a phenomenon affecting the deontic modal "may". This paper presents an extension of the semantic account of free choice defended in Fusco (2015) to the agentive modal "can", the "can" which, intuitively, describes an agent's powers. I begin by sketching a model of inexact ability, which grounds a modal approach to agency (Belnap & Perloff 1998; Belnap, Perloff, and Xu 2001) in a Williamson (1992, 2014)-style margin of error. A classical propositional semantics combined with this framework can reflect the intuitions highlighted by Kenny (1976)'s much-discussed dartboard cases, as well as the counterexamples to simple conditional views recently discussed by Mandelkern, Schultheis, and Boylan (2017). In Section 3, I turn to an actual-world-sensitive account of disjunction, and show how it extends free choice inferences into an object language for propositional modal logic.
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Archival date: 2020-05-28
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