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. (shrink)
Triviality results threaten plausible principles governing our credence in epistemic modal claims. This paper develops a new account of modal credence which avoids triviality. On the resulting theory, probabilities are assigned not to sets of worlds, but rather to sets of information state-world pairs. The theory avoids triviality by giving up the principle that rational credence is closed under conditionalization. A rational agent can become irrational by conditionalizing on new evidence. In place of conditionalization, the paper develops a new (...) account of updating: conditionalization with normalization. (shrink)
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 we want to respect these evaluations, our best option is a relativist theory of epistemicmodals. On a relativist theory, an utterance of a might be F can be true relative to one context of evaluation and false relative to another. We argue that such a theory does better than any rival approach at capturing all the behaviour of epistemicmodals. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
Seth Yalcin has pointed out some puzzling facts about the behaviour of epistemicmodals 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 epistemicmodals as expressing propositions about the knowledge of some contextually specified individual (...) or group. This paper develops an explanation of the puzzling facts about embedding within an orthodox framework. (shrink)
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 epistemicmodals. 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 the complexities of alternative theories. The second part of the story extends the basic framework to cover some complicated data about retraction and the interaction between epistemic modality and tense. A comparison between the suggestion made in this essay and current versions of the orthodoxy is provided. (shrink)
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; the types of mathematical modality; to the epistemic status of large cardinal axioms, undecidable propositions, and abstraction principles in the philosophy of mathematics; to the modal profile (...) of rational intuition; and to the types of intention, when the latter is interpreted as a modal mental state. Chapter \textbf{2} argues for a novel type of expressivism based on the duality between the categories of coalgebras and algebras, and argues that the duality permits of the reconciliation between modal cognitivism and modal expressivism. I also develop a novel topic-sensitive truthmaker semantics for dynamic epistemic logic, and develop a novel dynamic epistemic two-dimensional hyperintensional semantics. Chapter \textbf{3} provides an abstraction principle for epistemic intensions. Chapter \textbf{4} advances a topic-sensitive two-dimensional truthmaker semantics, and provides three novel interpretations of the framework along with the epistemic and metasemantic. Chapter \textbf{5} applies the fixed points of the modal $\mu$-calculus in order to account for the iteration of epistemic states, by contrast to availing of modal axiom 4 (i.e. the KK principle). Chapter \textbf{6} advances a solution to the Julius Caesar problem based on Fine's `criterial' identity conditions which incorporate conditions on essentiality and grounding. Chapter \textbf{7} provides a ground-theoretic regimentation of the proposals in the metaphysics of consciousness and examines its bearing on the two-dimensional conceivability argument against physicalism. The topic-sensitive epistemic two-dimensional truthmaker semantics developed in chapter \textbf{4} is availed of in order for epistemic states to be a guide to metaphysical states in the hyperintensional setting. Chapters \textbf{8-12} provide cases demonstrating how the two-dimensional intensions of epistemic two-dimensional semantics solve the access problem in the epistemology of mathematics. Chapter \textbf{8} examines the modal commitments of abstractionism, in particular necessitism, and epistemic modality and the epistemology of abstraction. Chapter \textbf{9} examines the modal profile of $\Omega$-logic in set theory. Chapter \textbf{10} examines the interaction between topic-sensitive epistemic two-dimensional truthmaker semantics, the axioms of epistemic set theory, large cardinal axioms, the Epistemic Church-Turing Thesis, the modal axioms governing the modal profile of $\Omega$-logic, Orey sentences such as the Generalized Continuum Hypothesis, and absolute decidability. Chapter \textbf{11} avails of modal coalgebraic automata to interpret the defining properties of indefinite extensibility, and avails of epistemic two-dimensional semantics in order to account for the interaction of the interpretational and objective modalities thereof. Chapter \textbf{12} provides a modal logic for rational intuition and provides a hyperintensional semantics. Chapter \textbf{13} examines modal responses to the alethic paradoxes. Chapter \textbf{14} examines, finally, the modal semantics for the different types of intention and the relation of the latter to evidential decision theory. The multi-hyperintensional, topic-sensitive epistemic two-dimensional truthmaker semantics developed in chapters \textbf{2} and \textbf{4} is applied in chapters \textbf{7}, \textbf{8}, \textbf{10}, \textbf{11}, \textbf{12}, and \textbf{14}. (shrink)
When are you in a position to rely on p in practical reasoning? Existing accounts say that you must know that p, or be in a position to know that p, or be justified in believing that p, or be in a position to justifiably believe it, and so on. This paper argues that all of these proposals face important problems, which I call the Problems of Negative Bootstrapping and of Level Confusions. I offer a diagnosis of these problems, and (...) I argue that an adequate epistemic norm must be transparent in the following sense: According to the correct epistemic norm, a consideration counts in favor of (or against) relying on p in practical reasoning iff, and to the extent that, this consideration also counts in favor of (or against) p being true. I introduce a candidate epistemic norm that satisfies this condition. According to this norm, one should rely on p in practical reasoning only if it must be that p. If we adopt a non-factualist account of “must”, this amounts to a novel and attractive proposal, a proposal that satisfies the transparency condition. (shrink)
This paper develops an information-sensitive theory of the semantics and probability of conditionals and statements involving epistemicmodals. The theory validates a number of principles linking probability and modality, including the principle that the probability of a conditional If A, then C equals the probability of C, updated with A. The theory avoids so-called triviality results, which are standardly taken to show that principles of this sort cannot be validated. To achieve this, we deny that rational agents update (...) their credences via conditionalization. We offer a new rule of update, Hyperconditionalization, which agrees with Conditionalization whenever nonmodal statements are at stake but differs for modal and conditional sentences. (shrink)
The epistemic modal auxiliaries must and might are vehicles for expressing the force with which a proposition follows from some body of evidence or information. Standard approaches model these operators using quantificational modal logic, but probabilistic approaches are becoming increasingly influential. According to a traditional view, must is a maximally strong epistemic operator and might is a bare possibility one. A competing account—popular amongst proponents of a probabilisitic turn—says that, given a body of evidence, must \ entails that (...) \\) is high but non-maximal and might \ that \\) is significantly greater than 0. Drawing on several observations concerning the behavior of must, might and similar epistemic operators in evidential contexts, deductive inferences, downplaying and retractions scenarios, and expressions of epistemic tension, I argue that those two influential accounts have systematic descriptive shortcomings. To better make sense of their complex behavior, I propose instead a broadly Kratzerian account according to which must \ entails that \ = 1\) and might \ that \ > 0\), given a body of evidence and a set of normality assumptions about the world. From this perspective, must and might are vehicles for expressing a common mode of reasoning whereby we draw inferences from specific bits of evidence against a rich set of background assumptions—some of which we represent as defeasible—which capture our general expectations about the world. I will show that the predictions of this Kratzerian account can be substantially refined once it is combined with a specific yet independently motivated ‘grammatical’ approach to the computation of scalar implicatures. Finally, I discuss some implications of these results for more general discussions concerning the empirical and theoretical motivation to adopt a probabilisitic semantic framework. (shrink)
Data involving epistemicmodals suggest that some classically valid argument forms, such as reductio, are invalid in natural language reasoning as they lead to modal collapses. We adduce further data showing that the classical argument forms governing the existential quantifier are similarly defective, as they lead to a de re–de dicto collapse. We observe a similar problem for disjunction. But if the classical argument forms for negation, disjunction and existential quantification are invalid, what are the correct forms that (...) govern the use of these items? Our diagnosis is that epistemicmodals interfere with hypothetical reasoning. We present a modal first-order logic and model theory that characterizes hypothetical reasoning with epistemicmodals in a principled manner. One upshot is a sound and complete natural deduction system for reasoning with epistemicmodals in first-order logic. (shrink)
Expressivists about epistemicmodals 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 epistemicmodals: the semantic value of a declarative from this domain is the property of doxastic (...) attitudes it canonically serves to express. In support, we synthesize data from the critical literature on expressivism—largely reflecting interactions between modals and disjunctions—and present a semantic expressivism that readily predicts the data. This contrasts with salient competitors, including: pragmatic expressivism based on domain semantics or dynamic semantics; semantic expressivism à la Moss [2015]; and the bounded relational semantics of Mandelkern [2019]. (shrink)
Epistemicmodals are a prominent topic in the literature on natural language semantics, with wide-ranging implications for issues in philosophy of language and philosophical logic. Considerations about the role that epistemic "might" and "must" play in discourse and reasoning have led to the development of several important alternatives to classical possible worlds semantics for natural language modal expressions. This is an opinionated overview of what I take to be some of the most exciting issues and developments in (...) the field. (shrink)
A primary challenge from the relativist to the contextualist about epistemicmodals is to explain eavesdropping data—i.e., why the eavesdropper is inclined to judge the speaker as having uttered an epistemic modal falsehood (when she is so inclined), even though the speaker’s utterance is true according to reasonable contextualist truth conditions. The issue turns in large part on the strength and shape of the data, both of which are in dispute. One complaint is that an eavesdropper’s truth (...) value judgments fluctuate with variations of non- epistemic fact (even after the relevant epistemic/information states are determined). The project here is to strengthen and reframe this complaint in a debate-neutral way, and to show how a sober contextualism can uniformly accommodate it and the standard eavesdropping data. Along the way we reject John Hawthorne’s danger-theoretic explanation of these subtleties. (shrink)
There is a lot that we don’t know. That means that there are a lot of possibilities that are, epistemically speaking, open. For instance, we don’t know whether it rained in Seattle yesterday. So, for us at least, there is an epistemic possibility where it rained in Seattle yesterday, and one where it did not. It’s tempting to give a very simple analysis of epistemic possibility: • A possibility is an epistemic possibility if we do not know (...) that it does not obtain. But this is problematic for a few reasons. One issue, one that we’ll come back to, concerns the first two words. The analysis appears to quantify over possibilities. But what are they? As we said, that will become a large issue pretty soon, so let’s set it aside for now. A more immediate problem is that it isn’t clear what it is to have de re attitudes towards possibilities, such that we know a particular possibility does or doesn’t obtain. Let’s try rephrasing our analysis so that it avoids this complication. (shrink)
So far, T×W frames have been employed to provide a semantics for a language of tense logic that includes a modal operator that expresses historical necessity. The operator is defined in terms of quantification over possible courses of events that satisfy a certain constraint, namely, that of being alike up to a given point. However, a modal operator can as well be defined without placing that constraint. This paper outlines a T×W logic where an operator of the latter kind is (...) used to express the epistemic property of definiteness. Section 1 provides the theoretical background. Sections 2 and 3 set out the semantics. Sections 4 and 5 show, drawing on established results, that there is a sound and complete axiomatization of the logic outlined. (shrink)
Indicative judgments pertain to what is true. Epistemic modal judgments pertain to what must or might be true relative to a body of information. A standard view is that epistemicmodals implicitly quantify over alternative possibilities, or ways things could turn out. On this view, a proposition must be true just in case it is true in all the possibilities consistent with the available information, and a proposition might be true just in case it is true in (...) at least one possibility consistent with the available information. I report three experiments testing this view of epistemicmodals. The results show that although modal judgments are sensitive to information about alternative possibilities, the standard quantification theory mischaracterizes the ordinary meaning of modals. I then report two more experiments testing the hypothesis that epistemicmodals express willingness to attribute knowledge based on the available information. The results support this hypothesis. The results also show that the difference between “inside” and “outside” probabilistic information, familiar from the judgment and decision-making literature, affects epistemic modal judgments. (shrink)
On Kratzer’s canonical account, modal expressions (like “might” and “must”) are represented semantically as quantifiers over possibilities. Such expressions are themselves neutral; they make a single contribution to determining the propositions expressed across a wide range of uses. What modulates the modality of the proposition expressed—as bouletic, epistemic, deontic, etc.—is context.2 This ain’t the canon for nothing. Its power lies in its ability to figure in a simple and highly unified explanation of a fairly wide range of language use. (...) Recently, though, the canon’s neat story has come under attack. The challenge cases involve the epistemic use of a modal sentence for which no single resolution of the contextual parameter appears capable of accommodating all our intuitions.3 According to these revisionaries, such cases show that the canonical story needs to be amended in some way that makes multiple bodies of information relevant to the assessment of such statements. Here I show that how the right canonical, flexibly contextualist account of modals can accommodate the full range of challenge cases. The key will be to extend Kratzer’s formal semantic account with an account of how context selects values for a modal’s.. (shrink)
Epistemicmodals in consequent place of indicative conditionals give rise to apparent counterexamples to Modus Ponens and Modus Tollens. Familiar assumptions of fa- miliar truth conditional theories of modality facilitate a prima facie explanation—viz., that the target cases harbor epistemic modal equivocations. However, these explana- tions go too far. For they foster other predictions of equivocation in places where in fact there are no equivocations. It is argued here that the key to the solution is to drop (...) the assumption that modal claims are inherently relational (i.e., that they ex- press a logical relation between a prejacent and a premise-set) in favor of a view that treats them as inherently quantificational. In particular it is suggested that modals are mass noun descriptions of information. We demonstrate how this approach unlocks the equivocation problem. (shrink)
ABSTRACTRecent debate over the semantics and pragmatics of epistemicmodals has focused on intuitions about cross-contextual truth-value assessments. In this paper, we advocate a different approach to evaluating theories of epistemicmodals. Our strategy focuses on judgments of the incompatibility of two different epistemic possibility claims, or two different truth value assessments of a single epistemic possibility claim. We subject the predictions of existing theories to empirical scrutiny, and argue that existing contextualist and relativist (...) theories are unable to account for the full pattern of observed judgments. As a way of illustrating the theoretical upshot of these results, we conclude by developing a novel theory of epistemicmodals that is able to predict the results. (shrink)
There is an account of modal operators that is both elegant and powerful and that deserves to be called the standard account. There are, however, some epistemic uses of modal operators which seem to be counterexamples to the account – they pose what I call the objectivity problem. It is often thought that the objectivity problem can be fixed by a certain kind of modification to the standard account. I argue that this kind of modification cannot work. Then I (...) argue that the problem posed for the standard account by recently discussed eavesdropper cases is really just the objectivity problem in a different guise, thereby emphasizing the need for a new solution to the objectivity problem. Finally, I propose a new solution to the objectivity problem. (shrink)
A central idea in Ruth Millikan’s biosemantics is that a representation’s content is restricted to conditions required for the normal success of actions that it has as its function to guide. This paper raises and responds to a problem for this idea. The problem is that the success requirement seems to block us from saying that epistemic modal judgments represent our epistemic circumstances. For the normal success of actions guided by these judgments seems to depend on what is (...) actually the case, not on whether or to what extent various possibilities were supported by our evidence. In response, I argue, first, that actions guided by epistemic modal judgments have as their function to implement strategies for handling epistemic circumstances, second, that the successful performance of this function requires that aspects of these circumstances obtain, and, third, that biosemantics can thus understand epistemic modal judgments as representing these aspects. The recognition of such strategic contents introduces complications; I further argue that these are benign. (shrink)
We propose a semantic analysis of the particles afinal (European Portuguese) and alla fine (Italian) in terms of the notion of truth unpersistence, which combines both epistemic modality and constraints on discourse structure. We argue that the felicitous use of these modal particles requires that the truth of a proposition p* fail to persist through a temporal succession of epistemic states, where p* is incompatible with the proposition modified by afinal/alla fine, and that the interlocutors share knowledge of (...) a previous epistemic attitude toward p*. We analyze two main cases, that of plan-related propositions and that of propositions without plans. We also discuss the connections between truth unpersistence and evidentiality. (shrink)
In this paper I will be concerned with the question as to whether expressivist theories of meaning can coherently be combined with deflationist theories of truth. After outlining what I take expressivism to be and what I take deflationism about truth to be, I’ll explain why I don’t take the general version of this question to be very hard, and why the answer is ‘yes’. Having settled that, I’ll move on to what I take to be a more pressing and (...) interesting version of the question, arising from a prima facie tension between deflationism about truth and the motivations underlying expressivism for what I take to be two of its most promising applications: to indicative conditionals and epistemicmodals. Here I’ll argue that the challenge is substantive, but that there is no conceptual obstacle to its being met, provided that one’s expressivism takes the right form. (shrink)
In assessing the veridicality of utterances, we normally seem to assess the satisfaction of conditions that the speaker had been concerned to get right in making the utterance. However, the debate about assessor-relativism about epistemicmodals, predicates of taste, gradable adjectives and conditionals has been largely driven by cases in which seemingly felicitous assessments of utterances are insensitive to aspects of the context of utterance that were highly relevant to the speaker’s choice of words. In this paper, we (...) offer an explanation of why certain locutions invite insensitive assessments, focusing primarily on ’tasty’ and ’might’. We spell out some reasons why felicitous insensitive assessments are puzzling and argue briefly that recent attempts to accommodate such assessments (including attempts by John MacFarlane, Kai von Fintel and Anthony Gillies) all fail to provide more than hints at a solution to the puzzle. In the main part of the paper, we develop an account of felicitous insensitive assessments by identifying a number of pragmatic factors that influence the felicity of assessments. Before closing, we argue that the role of these factors extend beyond cases considered in the debate about assessor-relativism and fit comfortably with standard contextualist analyses of the relevant locutions. (shrink)
The epistemic value of models has traditionally been approached from a representational perspective. This paper argues that the artifactual approach evades the problem of accounting for representation and better accommodates the modal dimension of modeling. From an artifactual perspective, models are viewed as erotetic vehicles constrained by their construction and available representational tools. The modal dimension of modeling is approached through two case studies. The first portrays mathematical modeling in economics, while the other discusses the modeling practice of synthetic (...) biology, which exploits and combines models in various modes and media. Neither model intends to represent any actual target system. Rather, they are constructed to study possible mechanisms through the construction of a model system with built-in dependencies. (shrink)
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 from two directions. Von Fintel and Gillies (2010) propose a return to a simpler modal logic-inspired account: 'must' and 'might' still involve universal and existential quantification, but the domains of possibilities are determined solely by realistic modal bases. In contrast, Lassiter (2016), following Swanson, proposes a more revisionary account which treats 'must' and 'might' as probabilistic operators. In this paper, we present a series of experiments to obtain reliable data on the degree of acceptability of various contexts of epistemic tension. Our experiments include novel variations that, we argue, are required to make progress in this debate. We show that restricted quantificational accounts à la Kratzer fit the overall pattern of results better than either of their recent competitors. In addition, our results help us identify the key components of restricted quantificational accounts, and on that basis propose some refinements and general constraints that should be satisfied by any account of the modal auxiliaries. (shrink)
The subject of this article is Modal-Epistemic Arithmetic (MEA), a theory introduced by Horsten to interpret Epistemic Arithmetic (EA), which in turn was introduced by Shapiro to interpret Heyting Arithmetic. I will show how to interpret MEA in EA such that one can prove that the interpretation of EA is MEA is faithful. Moreover, I will show that one can get rid of a particular Platonist assumption. Then I will discuss models for MEA in light of the problems (...) of logical omniscience and logical competence. Awareness models, impossible worlds models and syntactical models have been introduced to deal with the first problem. Certain conditions on the accessibility relations are needed to deal with the second problem. I go on to argue that those models are subject to the problem of quantifying in, for which I will provide a solution. (shrink)
There are three theories in the epistemology of modality that have received sustained attention over the past 20 years: conceivability-theory, counterfactual-theory, and deduction-theory. In this paper we argue that all three face what we call the problem of modal epistemic friction. One consequence of the problem is that for any of the three accounts to yield modal knowledge, the account must provide an epistemology of essence. We discuss an attempt to fend off the problem within the context of the (...) internalism versus externalism debate about epistemic justification. We then investigate the effects that the PMEF has on reductive and non-reductive theories of the relation between essence and modality. (shrink)
Marton argues that that it follows from the standard antirealist theory of truth, which states that truth and possible knowledge are equivalent, that knowing possibilities is equivalent to the possibility of knowing, whereas these notions should be distinct. Moreover, he argues that the usual strategies of dealing with the Church–Fitch paradox of knowability are either not able to deal with his modal-epistemic collapse result or they only do so at a high price. Against this, I argue that Marton’s paper (...) does not present any seriously novel challenge to anti-realism not already found in the Church–Fitch result. Furthermore, Edgington reformulated antirealist theory of truth can deal with his modal-epistemic collapse argument at no cost. (shrink)
We defend the view of epistemic `must' as weak and claim that `must p' is used when the speaker does not know p. Novel arguments for this well-known account are provided. The theory is extended to epistemic future.
A Benacerraf–Field challenge is an argument intended to show that common realist theories of a given domain are untenable: such theories make it impossible to explain how we’ve arrived at the truth in that domain, and insofar as a theory makes our reliability in a domain inexplicable, we must either reject that theory or give up the relevant beliefs. But there’s no consensus about what would count here as a satisfactory explanation of our reliability. It’s sometimes suggested that giving such (...) an explanation would involve showing that our beliefs meet some modal condition, but realists have claimed that this sort of modal interpretation of the challenge deprives it of any force: since the facts in question are metaphysically necessary and so obtain in all possible worlds, it’s trivially easy, even given realism, to show that our beliefs have the relevant modal features. Here I show that this claim is mistaken—what motivates a modal interpretation of the challenge in the first place also motivates an understanding of the relevant features in terms of epistemic possibilities rather than metaphysical possibilities, and there are indeed epistemically possible worlds where the facts in question don’t obtain. (shrink)
What does 'might' mean? One hypothesis is that 'It might be raining' is essentially an avowal of ignorance like 'For all I know, it's raining'. But it turns out these two constructions embed in different ways, in particular as parts of larger constructions like Wittgenstein's 'It might be raining and it's not' and Moore's 'It's raining and I don't know it', respectively. A variety of approaches have been developed to account for those differences. All approaches agree that both Moore sentences (...) and Wittgenstein sentences are classically consistent. In this paper I argue against this consensus. I adduce a variety of new data which I argue can best be accounted for if we treat Wittgenstein sentences as being classically inconsistent. This creates a puzzle, since there is decisive reason to think that 'Might p' is classically consistent with 'Not p'. How can it also be that 'Might p and not p' and 'Not p and might p' are classically inconsistent? To make sense of this situation, I propose a new theory of epistemicmodals and their interaction with embedding operators. This account makes sense of the subtle embedding behavior of epistemicmodals, shedding new light on their meaning and, more broadly, the dynamics of information in natural language. -/- . (shrink)
The subject of the first section is Carnapian modal logic. One of the things I will do there is to prove that certain description principles, viz. the ''self-predication principles'', i.e. the principles according to which a descriptive term satisfies its own descriptive condition, are theorems and that others are not. The second section will be devoted to Carnapian modal arithmetic. I will prove that, if the arithmetical theory contains the standard weak principle of induction, modal truth collapses to truth. Then (...) I will propose a different formulation of Carnapian modal arithmetic and establish that it is free of collapse. Noteworthy is that one can retain the standard strong principle of induction. I will occupy myself in the third section with Carnapian epistemic logic and arithmetic. Here too it is claimed that the standard weak principle of induction is invalid and that the alternative principle is valid. In the fourth and last section I will get back to the self-predication principles and I will point to some of the consequences if one adds them to Carnapian Epistemic arithmetic. The interaction of self-predication principles and the strong principle of induction results in a collapse of de re knowability. (shrink)
It is often assumed that when one party felicitously rejects an assertion made by an- other party, the first party thinks that the proposition asserted by the second is false. This assumption underlies various disagreement arguments used to challenge contex- tualism about some class of expressions. As such, many contextualists have resisted these arguments on the grounds that the disagreements in question may not be over the proposition literally asserted. The result appears to be a dialectical stalemate, with no independent (...) method of determining whether any particular instance of disagreement is over the proposition literally asserted. In this paper, I propose an independent method for assessing whether a disagreement is about what’s literally asserted. Focusing on epistemicmodals throughout, I argue that this method provides evidence that some epistemic modal disagreements are in fact not over the proposition literally asserted by the utterance of the epistemic modal sentence. This method provides a way to break the stalemate, and reveals a new data point for theories of epistemicmodals to predict—that is, how there can be such modal disagreements. In the rest of the paper, I motivate a general theory of how to predict these kinds of disagreements, and then offer some brief remarks about how contextualist, relativist, and expressivist theories of epistemicmodals might accommodate this new data point. (shrink)
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 in the modal claim. (2) A model on which graded attitudes toward modal claims are represented as judgments of credence taking as their objects (non-propositional) modal representations (rather than proxy propositions). The second model, like Moss’ model, is shown to be semantically and mathematically tractable. The second model, however, can be straightforwardly integrated into a plausible model of the role of graded attitudes toward modal claims in cognition and normative epistemology. (shrink)
I argue that modal epistemology should pay more attention to questions about the structure and function of modal thought. We can treat these questions from synchronic and diachronic angles. From a synchronic perspective, I consider whether a general argument for the epistemic support of modal though can be made on the basis of modal thoughs’s indispensability for what Enoch and Schechter (2008) call rationally required epistemic projects. After formulating the argument, I defend it from various objections. I also (...) examine the possibility of considering the indispensability of modal thought in terms of its components. Finally, I argue that we also need to approach these issues from a diachronic perspective, and I sketch how to approach this task. (shrink)
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 epistemicmodals. 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 implication. (shrink)
We present epistemic multilateral logic, a general logical framework for reasoning involving epistemic modality. Standard bilateral systems use propositional formulae marked with signs for assertion and rejection. Epistemic multilateral logic extends standard bilateral systems with a sign for the speech act of weak assertion (Incurvati and Schlöder 2019) and an operator for epistemic modality. We prove that epistemic multilateral logic is sound and complete with respect to the modal logic S5 modulo an appropriate translation. The (...) logical framework developed provides the basis for a novel, proof-theoretic approach to the study of epistemic modality. To demonstrate the fruitfulness of the approach, we show how the framework allows us to reconcile classical logic with the contradictoriness of so-called Yalcin sentences and to distinguish between various inference patterns on the basis of the epistemic properties they preserve. (shrink)
When embedding data are used to argue against semantic theory A and in favor of semantic theory B, it is important to ask whether A could make sense of those data. It is possible to ask that question on a case-by-case basis. But suppose we could show that A can make sense of all the embedding data which B can possibly make sense of. This would, on the one hand, undermine arguments in favor of B over A on the basis (...) of embedding data. And, provided that the converse does not hold—that is, that A can make sense of strictly more embedding data than B can—it would also show that there is a precise sense in which B is more constrained than A, yielding a pro tanto simplicity-based consideration in favor of B. In this paper I develop tools which allow us to make comparisons of this kind, which I call comparisons of potential expressive power. I motivate the development of these tools by way of exploration of the recent debate about epistemicmodals. Prominent theories which have been developed in response to embedding data turn out to be strictly less expressive than the standard relational theory, a fact which necessitates a reorientation in how to think about the choice between these theories. (shrink)
This paper motivates and develops a novel semantic framework for deontic modals. The framework is designed to shed light on two things: the relationship between deontic modals and substantive theories of practical rationality and the interaction of deontic modals with conditionals, epistemicmodals and probability operators. I argue that, in order to model inferential connections between deontic modals and probability operators, we need more structure than is provided by classical intensional theories. In particular, we (...) need probabilistic structure that interacts directly with the compositional semantics of deontic modals. However, I reject theories that provide this probabilistic structure by claiming that the semantics of deontic modals is linked to the Bayesian notion of expectation. I offer a probabilistic premise semantics that explains all the data that create trouble for the rival theories. (shrink)
This paper explains and defends the idea that metaphysical necessity is the strongest kind of objective necessity. Plausible closure conditions on the family of objective modalities are shown to entail that the logic of metaphysical necessity is S5. Evidence is provided that some objective modalities are studied in the natural sciences. In particular, the modal assumptions implicit in physical applications of dynamical systems theory are made explicit by using such systems to define models of a modal temporal logic. Those assumptions (...) arguably include some necessitist principles. -/- Too often, philosophers have discussed ‘metaphysical’ modality — possibility, contingency, necessity — in isolation. Yet metaphysical modality is just a special case of a broad range of modalities, which we may call ‘objective’ by contrast with epistemic and doxastic modalities, and indeed deontic and teleological ones (compare the distinction between objective probabilities and epistemic or subjective probabilities). Thus metaphysical possibility, physical possibility and immediate practical possibility are all types of objective possibility. We should study the metaphysics and epistemology of metaphysical modality as part of a broader study of the metaphysics and epistemology of the objective modalities, on pain of radical misunderstanding. Since objective modalities are in general open to, and receive, natural scientific investigation, we should not treat the metaphysics and epistemology of metaphysical modality in isolation from the metaphysics and epistemology of the natural sciences. -/- In what follows, Section 1 gives a preliminary sketch of metaphysical modality and its place in the general category of objective modality. Section 2 reviews some familiar forms of scepticism about metaphysical modality in that light. Later sections explore a few of the many ways in which natural science deals with questions of objective modality, including questions of quantified modal logic. (shrink)
This paper aims to contribute to the analysis of the nature of mathematical modality, and to the applications of the latter to unrestricted quantification and absolute decidability. Rather than countenancing the interpretational type of mathematical modality as a primitive, I argue that the interpretational type of mathematical modality is a species of epistemic modality. I argue, then, that the framework of two-dimensional semantics ought to be applied to the mathematical setting. The framework permits of a formally precise account of (...) the priority and relation between epistemic mathematical modality and metaphysical mathematical modality. The discrepancy between the modal systems governing the parameters in the two-dimensional intensional setting provides an explanation of the difference between the metaphysical possibility of absolute decidability and our knowledge thereof. I also advance a topic-sensitive epistemic two-dimensional truthmaker semantics, if hyperintensional approaches are to be preferred to possible worlds semantics. I examine the relation between two-dimensional hyperintensional states and epistemic set theory, providing two-dimensional hyperintensional formalizations of the modal logic of ZFC, large cardinal axioms, $\Omega$-logic, and the Epistemic Church-Turing Thesis. (shrink)
Modal epistemologies that rely on a fallibilism about modal claims have been gaining traction over the years. This paper critically discusses the accounts of Kung (2009; 2010; 2016) and Dohrn (2018; 2019; 2020) and argues that they are invariably susceptible to being read as entailing claims of epistemic possibility. Both Kung and Dohrn seek to ground modal intuitions on non-modal ones, and primarily appeal to the modalizing capacity of imagination to aid in the discovery of modal truths. However, insofar (...) as inference from non-modal imagination to modal truths remains fallible, then no non-ad hoc distinction can be made between substantiation of fallible metaphysically modal claims and infallible epistemically modal ones. This is because, barring an agent’s infallible knowledge of modal truths, how these truths are asserted must attend the agent’s imperfect epistemic access thereof, therefore entailing claims of modality consistent with her epistemic state – i.e., claims of epistemic possibility. If modal epistemologies in general non-modally ground their modal assertions in this fallible fashion, then they seem inevitably interpretable in terms of epistemic possibility as opposed to some non-epistemic reading of metaphysical possibility. (shrink)
ABSTRACT Quine insisted that the satisfaction of an open modalised formula by an object depends on how that object is described. Kripke's ‘objectual’ interpretation of quantified modal logic, whereby variables are rigid, is commonly thought to avoid these Quinean worries. Yet there remain residual Quinean worries for epistemic modality. Theorists have recently been toying with assignment-shifting treatments of epistemic contexts. On such views an epistemic operator ends up binding all the variables in its scope. One might worry (...) that this yields the undesirable result that any attempt to ‘quantify in’ to an epistemic environment is blocked. If quantifying into the relevant constructions is vacuous, then such views would seem hopelessly misguided and empirically inadequate. But a famous alternative to Kripke's semantics, namely Lewis' counterpart semantics, also faces this worry since it also treats the boxes and diamonds as assignment-shifting devices. As I'll demonstrate, the mere fact that a variable is bound is no obstacle to binding it. This provides a helpful lesson for those modelling de re epistemic contexts with assignment sensitivity, and perhaps leads the way toward the proper treatment of binding in both metaphysical and epistemic contexts: Kripke for metaphysical modality, Lewis for epistemic modality. (shrink)
The paper begins with a clarification of the notions of intuition (and, in particular, modal intuition), modal error, conceivability, metaphysical possibility, and epistemic possibility. It is argued that two-dimensionalism is the wrong framework for modal epistemology and that a certain nonreductionist approach to the theory of concepts and propositions is required instead. Finally, there is an examination of moderate rationalism’s impact on modal arguments in the philosophy of mind -- for example, Yablo’s disembodiment argument and Chalmers’s zombie argument. A (...) less vulnerable style of modal argument is defended, which nevertheless wins the same anti-materialist conclusions sought by these other arguments. (shrink)
Recent work on the imagination has stressed the epistemic role of imaginative experiences, notably in justifying modal beliefs. An immediate problem with this is that modal beliefs appear to admit of justification through the mere exercise of rational capacities. For instance, mastery of the concepts of pig, flying, and possibility should suffice to form a justified belief that flying pigs are possible, regardless of whether one imagines a flying pig. In this paper, I consider three ways to defend the (...)epistemic role of imagination in the face of this problem. One is that modal beliefs simply admit of justification by two separate sources: rational capacities and imaginative experience. Another is that while beliefs about logical or conceptual modality can be justified entirely by rational capacities, beliefs about metaphysical modality require imaginative experiences. The third, which I defend, is that imagination is relevant in the first instance not to modal knowledge but to modal understanding: even where imaginative experience is unnecessary for the justification of modal beliefs, it is indispensable for directly grasping certain modal facts. (shrink)
This paper provides a semantic analysis of the particles afinal (European Portuguese) and alla fine (Italian) in terms of the notion of truth unpersistence, which can be situated at the intersection of epistemic modality and discourse structure. In the analysis proposed, the particles are propositional operators and require that the truth of a proposition p* fail to persist through a temporal succession of epistemic states, this proposition being incompatible with the prejacent, and that the interlocutors share knowledge of (...) a previous epistemic attitude toward p*. We analyze two main cases (plan-related and non plan-related propositions) and also show that these particles are indexical to one (or more) epistemic agent(s) and allow for shifts in perspective. (shrink)
Probabilistic theories of “should” and “ought” face a predicament. At first blush, it seems that such theories must provide different lexical entries for the epistemic and the deontic interpretations of these modals. I show that there is a new style of premise semantics that can avoid this consequence in an attractively conservative way.
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