Epistemic modality and coordination under uncertainty

Proceedings of TARK 355:295--306 (2021)
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Communication facilitates coordination, but coordination might fail if there's too much uncertainty. I discuss a scenario in which vagueness-driven uncertainty undermines the possibility of publicly sharing a belief. I then show that asserting an epistemic modal sentence, 'Might p', can reveal the speaker's uncertainty, and that this may improve the chances of coordination despite the lack of a common epistemic ground. This provides a game-theoretic rationale for epistemic modality. The account draws on a standard relational semantics for epistemic modality, Stalnaker's theory of assertion as informative update, and a Bayesian framework for reasoning under uncertainty.

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Giorgio Sbardolini
University of Amsterdam


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