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Profile: Eric Swanson (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
  1. Eric Swanson, Constraint Semantics and its Application to Conditionals.
    We can think of ordinary truth-conditional semantics as giving us constraints on cognitive states. But constraints on cognitive states can be more complicated than simply believing a proposition. And we communicate more complicated constraints on cognitive states. We also communicate constraints that seem to bear on affective and conative states.
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  2. Eric Swanson, Pronouns and Complex Demonstratives.
    Until recently it was standard to think that all demonstratives are directly referential. This assumption has played important roles in work on perception, reference, mental content, and the nature of propositions. But Jeff King claims that demonstratives with a nominal complement (like ‘that dog’) are quantifiers, largely because there are cases in which the semantic value of such a “complex demonstrative” is not simply an object (2001). Although I agree with King that such cases preclude a directly referential, Kaplanian semantics (...)
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  3. Eric Swanson (forthcoming). Propositional Attitudes. In Paul Portner, Claudia Maienborn & Klaus von Heusinger (eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning. de Gruyter.
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  4. Eric Swanson (forthcoming). The Application of Constraint Semantics to the Language of Subjective Uncertainty. Journal of Philosophical Logic.
     
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  5. Eric Swanson (forthcoming). The Language of Causation. In Delia Graff Fara & Gillian Russell (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Routledge.
  6. Eric Swanson (2014). Ordering Supervaluationism, Counterpart Theory, and Ersatz Fundamentality. Journal of Philosophy 111 (6):289-310.
    Many philosophical theories make comparisons between objects, events, states of affairs, worlds, or systems, and many such theories deliver plausible verdicts only if some of the elements they compare are ranked as ‘best.’ When the relevant ordering does not have such ‘best’ or ‘tied for best’ elements the theory wrongly falls silent or gives badly counterintuitive results. This paper develops ordering supervaluationism---a very general technique that allows any such theory to handle these problematic cases. Just as ordinary supervaluation helps us (...)
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  7. Eric Swanson (2013). Subjunctive Biscuit and Stand-Off Conditionals. Philosophical Studies 163 (3):637-648.
    Conventional wisdom has it that many intriguing features of indicative conditionals aren’t shared by subjunctive conditionals. Subjunctive morphology is common in discussions of wishes and wants, however, and conditionals are commonly used in such discussions as well. As a result such discussions are a good place to look for subjunctive conditionals that exhibit features usually associated with indicatives alone. Here I offer subjunctive versions of J. L. Austin’s ‘biscuit’ conditionals—e.g., “There are biscuits on the sideboard if you want them”—and subjunctive (...)
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  8. Eric Swanson (2012). Conditional Excluded Middle Without the Limit Assumption. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (2):301-321.
  9. Eric Swanson (2011). On the Treatment of Incomparability in Ordering Semantics and Premise Semantics. Journal of Philosophical Logic 40 (6):693-713.
    In his original semantics for counterfactuals, David Lewis presupposed that the ordering of worlds relevant to the evaluation of a counterfactual admitted no incomparability between worlds. He later came to abandon this assumption. But the approach to incomparability he endorsed makes counterintuitive predictions about a class of examples circumscribed in this paper. The same underlying problem is present in the theories of modals and conditionals developed by Bas van Fraassen, Frank Veltman, and Angelika Kratzer. I show how to reformulate all (...)
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  10. Eric Swanson (2010). Book Review: Cynthea J. Bogel, With A Single Glance: Buddhist Icon and Early Mikkyō Vision. [REVIEW] Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 37:380-383.
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  11. Eric Swanson (2010). Lessons From The Context Sensitivity of Causal Talk. Journal of Philosophy 107 (5):221-242.
  12. Eric Swanson (2010). On Scope Relations Between Quantifiers and Epistemic Modals. Journal of Semantics 27 (4):529-540.
    This paper presents and discusses a range of counterexamples to the common view that quantifiers cannot take scope over epistemic modals. Some of the counterexamples raise problems for ‘force modifier’ theories of epistemic modals. Some of the counterexamples raise problems for Robert Stalnaker’s theory of counterfactuals, according to which a special kind of epistemic modal must be able to scope over a whole counterfactual. Finally, some of the counterexamples suggest that David Lewis must countenance ‘would’ counterfactuals in which a covert (...)
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  13. Eric Swanson (2010). Structurally Defined Alternatives and Lexicalizations of XOR. Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (1):31-36.
    In his recent paper on the symmetry problem Roni Katzir argues that the only relevant factor for the calculation of any Quantity implicature is syntactic structure. I first refute Katzir’s thesis with three examples that show that structural complexity is irrelevant to the calculation of some Quantity implicatures. I then argue that it is inadvisable to assume—as Katzir and others do—that exactly one factor is relevant to the calculation of any Quantity implicature.
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  14. Eric Swanson (2009). Review of Reflections on Meaning, by Paul Horwich. [REVIEW] Philosophical Review 118 (1):131-134.
    Reflections on Meaning refines Paul Horwich’s use theory of meaning. Horwich holds that the meaning of a word is constituted by the nonsemantic property that best explains a certain law. For a given word, the law to be explained governs that word’s use by specifying the “acceptance conditions” of a privileged class of sentences containing the word (26). Horwich devotes considerable energy to details in Reflections on Meaning and focuses on especially pressing problems for his use theory of meaning. As (...)
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  15. Eric Swanson (2009). How Not to Theorize About the Language of Subjective Uncertainty. In Andy Egan & B. Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality. Oxford University Press.
    A successful theory of the language of subjective uncertainty would meet several important constraints. First, it would explain how use of the language of subjective uncertainty affects addressees’ states of subjective uncertainty. Second, it would explain how such use affects what possibilities are treated as live for purposes of conversation. Third, it would accommodate 'quantifying in' to the scope of epistemic modals. Fourth, it would explain the norms governing the language of subjective uncertainty, and the differences between them and the (...)
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  16. Eric Swanson (2008). Modality in Language. Philosophy Compass 3 (6):1193-1207.
    This article discusses some of the ways in which natural language can express modal information – information which is, to a first approximation, about what could be or must be the case, as opposed to being about what actually is the case. It motivates, explains, and raises problems for Angelika Kratzer's influential theory of modal auxiliaries, and introduces a new approach to one important debate about the relationships between modality, evidentiality, context change, and imperative force.
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  17. Eric Swanson (2008). Note on Gibbard, ‘Rational Credence and the Value of Truth’. Oxford Studies in Epistemology 2.
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  18. Eric Swanson (2007). A Note on Gibbard's Rational Credence and the Value of Truth. In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology: Volume 2. Oup Oxford.
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  19. Eric Swanson (2006). Interactions with Context. Dissertation, MIT
    My dissertation asks how we affect conversational context and how it affects us when we participate in any conversation—including philosophical conversations. Chapter 1 argues that speakers make pragmatic presuppositions when they use proper names. I appeal to these presuppositions in giving a treatment of Frege’s puzzle that is consistent with the claim that coreferential proper names have the same semantic value. I outline an explanation of the way presupposition carrying expressions in general behave in belief ascriptions, and suggest that substitutivity (...)
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