David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Studies 133 (1):1--22 (2007)
I think that there are good reasons to adopt a relativist semantics for epistemic modal claims such as ``the treasure might be under the palm tree'', according to which such utterances determine a truth value relative to something finer-grained than just a world (or a <world, time> pair). Anyone who is inclined to relativise truth to more than just worlds and times faces a problem about assertion. It's easy to be puzzled about just what purpose would be served by assertions of this kind, and how to understand what we'd be up to in our use of sentences like ``the treasure might be under the palm tree'', if they have such peculiar truth conditions. After providing a very quick argument to motivate a relativist view of epistemic modals, I bring out and attempt to resolve this problem in making sense of the role of assertions with relativist truth conditions. Solving this problem should be helpful in two ways: first, it eliminates an apparently forceful objection to relativism, and second, spelling out the relativist account of assertion and communication will help to make clear just what the relativist position is, exactly, and why it's interesting.
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Citations of this work BETA
Nate Charlow (2014). The Problem with the Frege–Geach Problem. Philosophical Studies 167 (3):635-665.
John MacFarlane (2007). Relativism and Disagreement. Philosophical Studies 132 (1):17-31.
Lisa Warenski (2009). Naturalism, Fallibilism, and the a Priori. Philosophical Studies 142 (3):403 - 426.
Carl Baker (2012). Indexical Contextualism and the Challenges From Disagreement. Philosophical Studies 157 (1):107-123.
Andy Egan (2007). Quasi-Realism and Fundamental Moral Error. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):205 – 219.
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