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Bounded Modality

Philosophical Review 128 (1):1-61 (2019)

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  1. How to Do Things with Modals.Matthew Mandelkern - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (1):115-138.
    Mind &Language, Volume 35, Issue 1, Page 115-138, February 2020.
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  • Import‐Export and ‘And’.Matthew Mandelkern - 2020 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (1):118-135.
    Import-Export says that a conditional 'If p, if q, r' is always equivalent to the conditional 'If p and q, r'. I argue that Import-Export does not sit well with a classical approach to conjunction: given some plausible and widely accepted principles about conditionals, Import-Export together with classical conjunction leads to absurd consequences. My main goal is to draw out these surprising connections. In concluding I argue that the right response is to reject Import-Export and adopt instead a limited version (...)
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  • Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - Wiley-Blackwell.
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  • Epistemic Modals in Context.Andy Egan, John Hawthorne & Brian Weatherson - 2005 - In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy: Knowledge, Meaning, and Truth. Clarendon Press.
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  • Assessment Sensitivity: Relative Truth and its Applications.John MacFarlane - 2014 - 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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  • Updating Data Semantics.Anthony S. Gillies - 2020 - Mind 129 (513):1-41.
    This paper has three main goals. First, to motivate a puzzle about how ignorance-expressing terms like maybe and if interact: they iterate, and when they do they exhibit scopelessness. Second, to argue that there is an ambiguity in our theoretical toolbox, and that exposing that opens the door to a solution to the puzzle. And third, to explore the reach of that solution. Along the way, the paper highlights a number of pleasing properties of two elegant semantic theories, explores some (...)
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  • Probabilistic Knowledge.Sarah Moss - 2016 - Oxford University Press.
    Sarah Moss argues that in addition to full beliefs, credences can constitute knowledge. She introduces the notion of probabilistic content and shows how it plays a central role not only in epistemology, but in the philosophy of mind and language. Just you can believe and assert propositions, you can believe and assert probabilistic contents.
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  • Epistemic Modals Are Assessment-Sensitive.John MacFarlane - 2011 - In Andy Egan & Brian Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality. Oxford University Press.
    By “epistemic modals,” I mean epistemic uses of modal words: adverbs like “necessarily,” “possibly,” and “probably,” adjectives like “necessary,” “possible,” and “probable,” and auxiliaries like “might,” “may,” “must,” and “could.” It is hard to say exactly what makes a word modal, or what makes a use of a modal epistemic, without begging the questions that will be our concern below, but some examples should get the idea across. If I say “Goldbach’s conjecture might be true, and it might be false,” (...)
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  • 'Might' Made Right.Kai von Fintel & Anthony Gillies - 2011 - In Andy Egan & Brian Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality. Oxford University Press. pp. 108–130.
    The simplest story about modals—might, must, possibly, necessary, have to, can, ought to, presumably, likelier, and the rest—is also the canon: modals are context-dependent quantifiers over a domain of possibilities. Different flavors of modality correspond to quantification over different domains of possibilities. Logical modalities quantify over all the possibilities there are, physical modalities over possibilities compatible with the..
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  • Semantics in Generative Grammar.Irene Heim & Angelika Kratzer - 1998 - Blackwell.
    Written by two of the leading figures in the field, this is a lucid and systematic introduction to semantics as applied to transformational grammars of the ...
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  • A Reply to My Critics.George Edward Moore - 1942 - In Paul Arthur Schilpp (ed.), The Philosophy of G. E. Moore. Open Court.
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  • Embedding Epistemic Modals.Cian Dorr & John Hawthorne - 2013 - Mind 122 (488):867-914.
    Seth Yalcin has pointed out some puzzling facts about the behaviour of epistemic modals in certain embedded contexts. For example, conditionals that begin ‘If it is raining and it might not be raining, … ’ sound unacceptable, unlike conditionals that begin ‘If it is raining and I don’t know it, … ’. These facts pose a prima facie problem for an orthodox treatment of epistemic modals as expressing propositions about the knowledge of some contextually specified individual or group. This paper (...)
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  • A Theory of Conditionals.Robert C. Stalnaker - 1968 - In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), Studies in Logical Theory (American Philosophical Quarterly Monographs 2). Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 98-112.
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  • Conditionals.Angelika Kratzer - 1986 - Chicago Linguistics Society 22 (2):1–15.
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  • Pragmatic Presuppositions.Robert Stalnaker - 1974 - In Context and Content. Oxford University Press. pp. 47--62.
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  • Belief is Weak.John Hawthorne, Daniel Rothschild & Levi Spectre - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (5):1393-1404.
    It is tempting to posit an intimate relationship between belief and assertion. The speech act of assertion seems like a way of transferring the speaker’s belief to his or her audience. If this is right, then you might think that the evidential warrant required for asserting a proposition is just the same as the warrant for believing it. We call this thesis entitlement equality. We argue here that entitlement equality is false, because our everyday notion of belief is unambiguously a (...)
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  • On Truth-Conditions for If (but Not Quite Only If ).Anthony S. Gillies - 2009 - Philosophical Review 118 (3):325-349.
    What we want to be true about ordinary indicative conditionals seems to be more than we can possibly get: there just seems to be no good way to assign truth-conditions to ordinary indicative conditionals. Some take this argument as reason to make our wantings more modest. Others take it to show that indicative conditionals don't have truth-conditions in the first place. But we have overlooked two possibilities for assigning truth-conditions to indicatives. What's more, those possibilities deliver what we want and (...)
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  • Context.Robert Stalnaker - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    Robert Stalnaker explores the contexts in which speech takes place, the ways we represent them, and the roles they play in explaining the interpretation and dynamics of speech. His central thesis is the autonomy of pragmatics: the independence of theory about structure and function of discourse from theory about mechanisms serving those functions.
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  • Common Ground.Robert C. Stalnaker - 2002 - Linguistics and Philosophy 25 (5-6):701-721.
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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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  • Presupposition Projection and Logical Equivalence.Daniel Rothschild - 2008 - Noûs 42 (1):473 - 497.
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  • Transparency Theory and its Dynamic Alternatives: Commentary on “Be Articulate”.Daniel Rothschild - unknown
    “Be Articulate: A Pragmatic Theory of Presupposition Projection” is a remarkable paper in at least two respects: First, it is the only broadly Gricean treatment of presuppositions that generates precise and accurate predictions about the pattern of presupposition projection. Schlenker proposes that presuppositions arise as a result of a pragmatic prohibition against using one short construction to express two independent meanings. This basic idea is quite an old one.1 But no one has ever elaborated this pragmatic story in a way (...)
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  • Explaining Presupposition Projection with Dynamic Semantics.Daniel Rothschild - 2011 - Semantics and Pragmatics 4 (3):1-43.
    Presents a version of dynamic semantics for a language with presuppositions that predicts basic facts about presupposition projection in a non-stipulative way.
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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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  • Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
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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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  • What the Future ‘Might’ Brings.David Boylan - 2020 - Mind 129 (515):809-829.
    This paper concerns a puzzle about the interaction of epistemic modals and future tense. In cases of predictable forgetfulness, speakers cannot describe their future states of mind with epistemic modals under future tense, but promising theories of epistemic modals do not predict this. In §1, I outline the puzzle. In §2, I argue that it undermines a very general approach to epistemic modals that draws a tight connection between epistemic modality and evidence. In §3, I defend the assumption that tense (...)
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  • Epistemic Modals.Seth Yalcin - 2007 - Mind 116 (464):983-1026.
    Epistemic modal operators give rise to something very like, but also very unlike, Moore's paradox. I set out the puzzling phenomena, explain why a standard relational semantics for these operators cannot handle them, and recommend an alternative semantics. A pragmatics appropriate to the semantics is developed and interactions between the semantics, the pragmatics, and the definition of consequence are investigated. The semantics is then extended to probability operators. Some problems and prospects for probabilistic representations of content and context are explored.
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  • A Counterexample to Modus Ponens.Vann McGee - 1985 - Journal of Philosophy 82 (9):462-471.
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  • ‘Ought’ and Resolution Semantics.Fabrizio Cariani - 2013 - Noûs 47 (3):534-558.
    I motivate and characterize an intensional semantics for ‘ought’ on which it does not behave as a universal quantifier over possibilities. My motivational argument centers on taking at face value some standard challenges to the quantificational semantics, especially to the idea that ‘ought’-sentences satisfy the principle of Inheritance. I argue that standard pragmatic approaches to these puzzles are either not sufficiently detailed or unconvincing.
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  • Agentive Modals.Matthew Mandelkern, Ginger Schultheis & David Boylan - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (3):301-343.
    This essay proposes a new theory of agentive modals: ability modals and their duals, compulsion modals. After criticizing existing approaches—the existential quantificational analysis, the universal quantificational analysis, and the conditional analysis—it presents a new account that builds on both the existential and conditional analyses. On this account, the act conditional analysis, a sentence like ‘John can swim across the river’ says that there is some practically available action that is such that if John tries to do it, he swims across (...)
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  • Triviality Results and the Relationship Between Logical and Natural Languages.Justin Khoo & Matthew Mandelkern - 2019 - Mind 128 (510):485-526.
    Inquiry into the meaning of logical terms in natural language (‘and’, ‘or’, ‘not’, ‘if’) has generally proceeded along two dimensions. On the one hand, semantic theories aim to predict native speaker intuitions about the natural language sentences involving those logical terms. On the other hand, logical theories explore the formal properties of the translations of those terms into formal languages. Sometimes, these two lines of inquiry appear to be in tension: for instance, our best logical investigation into conditional connectives may (...)
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  • Defaults in Update Semantics.Frank Veltman - 1996 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 25 (3):221 - 261.
    The aim of this paper is twofold: (i) to introduce the framework of update semantics and to explain what kind of semantic phenomena may successfully be analysed in it: (ii) to give a detailed analysis of one such phenomenon: default reasoning.
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  • Semantics and the Objects of Assertion.Dilip Ninan - 2010 - Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (5):355-380.
    This paper is about the relationship between two questions: the question of what the objects of assertion are and the question of how best to theorise about ‘shifty’ phenomena like modality and tense. I argue that the relationship between these two questions is less direct than is often supposed. I then explore the consequences of this for a number of debates in the philosophy of language.
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  • Quantification and Epistemic Modality.Dilip Ninan - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (4):433-485.
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  • Epistemic Conditionals and Conditional Epistemics.Anthony S. Gillies - 2004 - Noûs 38 (4):585–616.
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  • Restrictions on Quantifier Domains.Kai von Fintel - 1994 - Dissertation, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
    This dissertation investigates the ways in which natural language restricts the domains of quantifiers. Adverbs of quantification are analyzed as quantifying over situations. The domain of quantifiers is pragmatically constrained: apparent processes of "semantic partition" are treated as pragmatic epiphenomena. The introductory Chapter 1 sketches some of the background of work on natural language quantification and begins the analysis of adverbial quantification over situations. Chapter 2 develops the central picture of "semantic partition" as a side-effect of pragmatic processes of anaphora (...)
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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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  • Parsing and Presupposition in the Calculation of Local Contexts.Matthew Mandelkern & Jacopo Romoli - forthcoming - Semantics and Pragmatics.
    In this paper, we use antecedent-final conditionals to formulate two problems for parsing-based theories of presupposition projection and triviality of the kind given in Schlenker 2009. We show that, when it comes to antecedent-final conditionals, parsing-based theories predict filtering of presuppositions where there is in fact projection, and triviality judgments for sentences which are in fact felicitous. More concretely, these theories predict that presuppositions triggered in the antecedent of antecedent-final conditionals will be filtered (i.e. will not project) if the negation (...)
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  • Epistemic Modals in Context.Andy Egan, John Hawthorne & Brian Weatherson - 2005 - In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 131-170.
    A very simple contextualist treatment of a sentence containing an epistemic modal, e.g. a might be F, is that it is true iff for all the contextually salient community knows, a is F. It is widely agreed that the simple theory will not work in some cases, but the counterexamples produced so far seem amenable to a more complicated contextualist theory. We argue, however, that no contextualist theory can capture the evaluations speakers naturally make of sentences containing epistemic modals. If (...)
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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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  • Relative Truth, Speaker Commitment, and Control of Implicit Arguments.Peter Lasersohn - 2009 - Synthese 166 (2):359-374.
    Recent arguments for relativist semantic theories have centered on the phenomenon of “faultless disagreement.” This paper offers independent motivation for such theories, based on the interpretation of predicates of personal taste in certain attitude contexts and presuppositional constructions. It is argued that the correct interpretation falls out naturally from a relativist theory, but requires special stipulation in a theory which appeals instead to the use of hidden indexicals; and that a hidden indexical analysis presents problems for contemporary syntactic theory.
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  • On the Semantics and Pragmatics of Epistemic Vocabulary.Sarah Moss - 2015 - Semantics and Pragmatics.
    This paper motivates and develops a novel semantics for several epistemic expressions, including possibility modals and indicative conditionals. The semantics I defend constitutes an alternative to standard truth conditional theories, as it assigns sets of probability spaces as sentential semantic values. I argue that what my theory lacks in conservatism is made up for by its strength. In particular, my semantics accounts for the distinctive behavior of nested epistemic modals, indicative conditionals embedded under probability operators, and instances of constructive dilemma (...)
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  • What Do Quantifier Particles Do?Anna Szabolcsi - 2015 - Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (2):159-204.
    In many languages, the same particles that form quantifier words also serve as connectives, additive and scalar particles, question markers, roots of existential verbs, and so on. Do these have a unified semantics, or do they merely bear a family resemblance? Are they aided by silent operators in their varied roles―if yes, what operators? I dub the particles “quantifier particles” and refer to them generically with capitalized versions of the Japanese morphemes. I argue that both MO and KA can be (...)
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  • Believing Epistemic Contradictions.Beddor Bob & Simon Goldstein - 2018 - Review of Symbolic Logic (1):87-114.
    What is it to believe something might be the case? We develop a puzzle that creates difficulties for standard answers to this question. We go on to propose our own solution, which integrates a Bayesian approach to belief with a dynamic semantics for epistemic modals. After showing how our account solves the puzzle, we explore a surprising consequence: virtually all of our beliefs about what might be the case provide counterexamples to the view that rational belief is closed under logical (...)
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  • Presupposition Projection as Anaphora Resolution.Rob A. van Der Sandt - 1992 - Journal of Semantics 9 (4):333-377.
    The present paper presents an anaphoric account of presupposition. It is argued that presuppositional expressions should not be seen as referring expressions, nor is presupposition to be explicated in terms of some non-standard logic. The notion of presupposition should not be relegated to a pragmatic theory either. Instead presuppositional expressions are claimed to be anaphoric expressions which have internal structure and semantic content. In fact they only differ from pronouns and other semantically less loaded anaphors in that they have more (...)
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  • Knowledge and Belief: An Introduction to the Logic of the Two Notions.Alan R. White - 1965 - Philosophical Quarterly 15 (60):268.
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  • Free Choice Disjunction and Epistemic Possibility.Thomas Ede Zimmermann - 2000 - Natural Language Semantics 8 (4):255-290.
    This paper offers an explanation of the fact that sentences of the form (1) ‘X may A or B’ may be construed as implying (2) ‘X may A and X may B’, especially if they are used to grant permission. It is suggested that the effect arises because disjunctions are conjunctive lists of epistemic possibilities. Consequently, if the modal may is itself epistemic, (1) comes out as equivalent to (2), due to general laws of epistemic logic. On the other hand, (...)
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  • Epistemic Modals and Context: Experimental Data.Joshua Knobe & Seth Yalcin - 2014 - Semantics and Pragmatics 7 (10):1-21.
    Recently, a number of theorists (MacFarlane (2003, 2011), Egan et al. (2005), Egan (2007), Stephenson (2007a,b)) have argued that an adequate semantics and pragmatics for epistemic modals calls for some technical notion of relativist truth and/or relativist content. Much of this work has relied on an empirical thesis about speaker judgments, namely that competent speakers tend to judge a present-tense bare epistemic possibility claim true only if the prejacent is compatible with their information. Relativists have in particular appealed to judgments (...)
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  • Will Done Better: Selection Semantics, Future Credence, and Indeterminacy.Fabrizio Cariani & Paolo Santorio - 2018 - Mind 127 (505):129-165.
    Statements about the future are central in everyday conversation and reasoning. How should we understand their meaning? The received view among philosophers treats will as a tense: in ‘Cynthia will pass her exam’, will shifts the reference time forward. Linguists, however, have produced substantial evidence for the view that will is a modal, on a par with must and would. The different accounts are designed to satisfy different theoretical constraints, apparently pulling in opposite directions. We show that these constraints are (...)
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