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J. L. Dowell [5]J. L. Dowell [3]
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Janice Dowell
Syracuse University
  1. A Flexible Contextualist Account of Epistemic Modals.Janice Dowell, J. L. - 2011 - Philosophers' Imprint 11:1-25.
    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, (...)
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  2. Flexible Contextualism About Deontic Modals: A Puzzle About Information-Sensitivity.J. L. Dowell - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (2-3):149-178.
    According to a recent challenge to Kratzer's canonical contextualist semantics for deontic modal expressions, no contextualist view can make sense of cases in which such a modal must be information-sensitive in some way. Here I show how Kratzer's semantics is compatible with readings of the targeted sentences that fit with the data. I then outline a general account of how contexts select parameter values for modal expressions and show, in terms of that account, how the needed, contextualist-friendly readings might plausibly (...)
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  3. The Metaethical Insignificance of Moral Twin Earth.Janice Dowell, J. L. - 2016 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics volume 11. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-27.
    What considerations place genuine constraints on an adequate semantics for normative and evaluative expressions? Linguists recognize facts about ordinary uses of such expressions and competent speakers’ judgments about which uses are appropriate. The contemporary literature reflects the widespread assumption that linguists don’t rely upon an additional source of data—competent speakers’ judgments about possible disagreement with hypothetical speech communities. We have several good reasons to think that such judgments are not probative for semantic theorizing. Therefore, we should accord these judgments no (...)
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  4. Contextualist Solutions to Three Puzzles About Practical Conditionals.Janice Dowell, J. L. - 2012 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, volume 7. Oxford University Press.
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  5. The Language of Reasons and 'Ought'.Aaron Bronfman & J. L. Dowell - forthcoming - In Daniel Star (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Reasons.
    Here we focus on two questions: What is the proper semantics for deontic modal expressions in English? And what is the connection between true deontic modal statements and normative reasons? Our contribution towards thinking about the first, which makes up the bulk of our paper, considers a representative sample of recent challenges to a Kratzer-style formal semantics for modal expressions, as well as the rival views—Fabrizio Cariani’s contrastivism, John MacFarlane’s relativism, and Mark Schroeder’s ambiguity theory—those challenges are thought to motivate. (...)
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  6.  26
    Semantics for Deontic Modals.J. L. Dowell - forthcoming - In Ernest Lepore & Una Stojnic (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy of Language. Oxford University Press.
    Over the last fifteen years, linguists and philosophers of language have reexamined the canonical, Kratzerian semantics for modal expressions, with special attention paid to their epistemic and deontic uses. This article is an overview of the literature on deontic modal expressions. Section 1 provides an overview of the canonical semantics, noting some of its main advantages. Section 2 introduces a set of desiderata that have achieved the status of fixed points in the debates about whether the canonical semantics is correct. (...)
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