Expressing Permission

Semantics and Linguistic Theory 26:325-349 (2016)
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Abstract

This paper proposes a semantics for free choice permission that explains both the non-classical behavior of modals and disjunction in sentences used to grant permission, and their classical behavior under negation. It also explains why permissions can expire when new information comes in and why free choice arises even when modals scope under disjunction. On the proposed approach, deontic modals update preference orderings, and connectives operate on these updates rather than propositions. The success of this approach stems from its capacity to capture the difference between expressing the preferences that give rise to permissions and conveying propositions about those preferences.

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William B. Starr
Cornell University

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