Evaluating future-tensed sentences in changing contexts

Abstract
According to the actualist view, what is essential in the truth conditions of a future-tensed sentence of type ‘it will be the case that ϕ’ is the reference to the unique course of events that will become actual. On the other hand, the modal view has it that the truth conditions of such a sentence require the truth of ϕ being already “settled” at the time of utterance, where “being settled” is defined by universal quantification over a domain of courses of events, the futures compatible with what has happened up to the time of utterance. On the proposal we discuss in this paper, actualism and modalism are seen as two related attitudes that speakers can have when evaluating future-tensed sentences, and the corresponding interpretations undergo a unified semantic treatment based on a contextual notion of settledness. A central feature of our approach is a dynamic view of contexts of utterance, according to which the world of the utterance is not fixed once and for all, as different worlds, by the passing of time, can play this role in turn. Finally, one major goal of the paper is to show how the unified analysis we propose accounts for a particularly interesting interpretation of futuretensed sentences, often referred to as ‘epistemic reading’.
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