Two approaches for defining common knowledge coexist in the literature: the infinite iteration definition and the circular or fixed point one. In particular, an original modelization of the fixed point definition was proposed by Barwise (1989) in the context of a non-well-founded set theory and the infinite iteration approach has been technically analyzed within multi-modal epistemic logic using neighbourhood semantics by Lismont (1993). This paper exhibits a relation between these two ways of modelling common knowledge which (...) seem at first quite different. (shrink)
We study the problem of embedding Halpern and Moses's modal logic of minimal knowledge states into two families of modal formalism for nonmonotonic reasoning, McDermott and Doyle's nonmonotonic modal logics and ground nonmonotonic modal logics. First, we prove that Halpern and Moses's logic can be embedded into all ground logics; moreover, the translation employed allows for establishing a lower bound (3p) for the problem of skeptical reasoning in all ground logics. Then, we show a translation (...) of Halpern and Moses's logic into a significant subset of McDermott and Doyle's formalisms. Such a translation both indicates the ability of Halpern and Moses's logic of expressing minimal knowledge states in a more compact way than McDermott and Doyle's logics, and allows for a comparison of the epistemological properties of such nonmonotonic modal formalisms. (shrink)
The paper compares the suitability of two different epistemologies of counterfactuals—(EC) and (W)—to elucidate modalknowledge. I argue that, while both of them explain the data on our knowledge of counterfactuals, only (W)—Williamson’s epistemology—is compatible with all counterpossibles being true. This is something on which Williamson’s counterfactual-based account of modalknowledge relies. A first problem is, therefore, that, in the absence of further, disambiguating data, Williamson’s choice of (W) is objectionably biased. A second, deeper problem (...) is that (W) cannot satisfactorily elucidate modalknowledge. Third, from a naturalistic perspective, the nature of this second problem favours (EC) against (W). (shrink)
The paper presents a dilemma for both epistemic and non-epistemic versions of conceivability-based accounts of modalknowledge. On the one horn, non-epistemic accounts do not elucidate the essentialist knowledge they would be committed to. On the other, epistemic accounts do not elucidate everyday life de re modalknowledge. In neither case, therefore, do conceivability accounts elucidate de re modalknowledge.
The notion of conceivability has traditionally been regarded as crucial to an account of modalknowledge. Despite its importance to modal epistemology, there is no received explication of conceivability. One purpose of this paper is to argue that the notion is not fruitfully explicated in terms of the imagination. The most natural way of presenting a notion of conceivability qua imaginability is open to cogent criticism. In order to avoid such criticism, an advocate of the modal (...) insightfulness of the imagination must broaden the idea of what it is to be imaginable. I argue that this required broadening renders the imagination idle (in this context). Consequently, I distinguish two different accounts of the evidential basis of modalknowledge and present a more general argument that concludes that the very notion of conceivability should be eschewed in modal epistemology. (shrink)
How do we know what's (metaphysically) possible and impossible? Arguments from Kripke and Putnam suggest that possibility is not merely a matter of (coherent) conceivability/imaginability. For example, we can coherently imagine that Hesperus and Phosphorus are distinct objects even though they are not possibly distinct. Despite this apparent problem, we suggest, nevertheless, that imagination plays an important role in an adequate modal epistemology. When we discover what is possible or what is impossible, we generally exploit important connections between what (...) is possible and what we can coherently imagine. We can often come to knowledge of metaphysical modality a priori. (shrink)
In this paper I will offer a novel understanding of a priori knowledge. My claim is that the sharp distinction that is usually made between a priori and a posteriori knowledge is groundless. It will be argued that a plausible understanding of a priori and a posteriori knowledge has to acknowledge that they are in a constant bootstrapping relationship. It is also crucial that we distinguish between a priori propositions that hold in the actual world and merely (...) possible, non-actual a priori propositions, as we will see when considering cases like Euclidean geometry. Furthermore, contrary to what Kripke seems to suggest, a priori knowledge is intimately connected with metaphysical modality, indeed, grounded in it. The task of a priori reasoning, according to this account, is to delimit the space of metaphysically possible worlds in order for us to be able to determine what is actual. (shrink)
There is currently intense interest in the question of the source of our presumed knowledge of truths concerning what is, or is not, metaphysically possible or necessary. Some philosophers locate this source in our capacities to conceive or imagine various actual or non-actual states of affairs, but this approach is open to certain familiar and seemingly powerful objections. A different and ostensibly more promising approach has been developed by Timothy Williamson, according to which our capacity for modal (...) class='Hi'>knowledge is just an extension, or by-product, of our general capacity to acquire knowledge of true counterfactual conditionals — a capacity that we deploy ubiquitously in everyday life. Williamson’s account crucially involves a thesis to the effect that modal truths can be explained in terms of counterfactual truths. In this paper, I query Williamson’s account on a number of points, including this thesis. My positive proposal, which owes a debt to the work of Kit Fine on modality and essence, appeals instead to our capacity to grasp essences, understood in a neo-Aristotelian fashion, according to which essences are expressed by ‘real definitions’. (shrink)
Modal intuitions are the primary source of modalknowledge but also of modal error. According to the theory of modal error in this paper, modal intuitions retain their evidential force in spite of their fallibility, and erroneous modal intuitions are in principle identifiable and eliminable by subjecting our intuitions to a priori dialectic. After an inventory of standard sources of modal error, two further sources are examined in detail. The first source - (...) namely, the failure to distinguish between metaphysical possibility and various kinds of epistemic possibility - turns out to be comparatively easy to untangle and poses little threat to intuition-driven philosophical investigation. The second source is the local (i.e., temporary) misunderstanding of one's concepts (as opposed to outright Burgean misunderstanding). This pathology may be understood on analogy with a patient who is given a clean bill of health at his annual check-up, despite his having a cold at the time of the check-up: although the patient's health is locally (temporarily) disrupted, his overall health is sufficiently good to enable him to overcome the cold without external intervention. Even when our understanding of certain pivotal concepts has lapsed locally, our larger body of intuitions is sufficiently reliable to allow us, without intervention, to ferret out the modal errors resulting from this lapse of understanding by means of dialectic and/or a process of a priori reflection. This source of modal error, and our capacity to overcome it, has wide-ranging implications for philosophical method - including, in particular, its promise for disarming skepticism about the classical method of intuition-driven investigation itself. Indeed, it is shown that skeptical accounts of modal error (e.g., the accounts given by Hill, Levin, and several others) are ultimately self-defeating. (shrink)
The epistemology of modality is gradually coming to play a central role in general discussions about modality. This paper is a contribution in this direction, in particular I draw a comparison between Lewis’s Modal realism and Timothy Williamson’s recent account of modality in terms of counterfactual thinking. In order to have criteria of evaluation, I also formulate four requirements which are supposed to be met by any theory of modality to be epistemologically adequate.
I survey a number of views about how we can obtain knowledge of modal propositions, propositions about necessity and possibility. One major approach is that whether a proposition or state of affairs is conceivable tells us something about whether it is possible. I examine two quite different positions that fall under this rubric, those of Yablo and Chalmers. One problem for this approach is the existence of necessary a posteriori truths and I deal with some of the ways (...) in which these authors respond to the problem, including the use of two-dimensional modal semantics. Conventionalism about modality offers a complementary approach to modal epistemology, prompting us to identify our knowledge of modal truths with our mastery of linguistic or conceptual conventions. Finally, I discuss an approach to modal epistemology deriving from David Lewis's work that seeks to identify structural features of the modal space over which necessity and possibility are defined. (shrink)
Jason Stanley has argued recently that Epistemic Contextualism (EC) and Subject-Sensitive Invariantism (SSI) are explanatorily on a par with regard to certain data arising from modal and temporal embeddings of 'knowledge'-ascriptions. This paper argues against Stanley that EC has a clear advantage over SSI in the discussed field and introduces a new type of linguistic datum strongly suggesting the falsity of SSI.
The paper provides an explanation of our knowledge of metaphysical modality, or modalknowledge, from our ability to evaluate counterfactual conditionals. The latter ability lends itself to an evolutionary explanation since it enables us to learn from mistakes. Different logical principles linking counterfactuals to metaphysical modality can be employed to extend this explanation to the epistemology of modality. While the epistemological use of some of these principles is either philosophically implausible or empirically inadequate, the equivalence of ‘Necessarily (...) p’ with ‘For all q, if q were the case, p would be the case’ is a suitable starting-point for an explanation of modalknowledge. (shrink)
Abstract Timothy Williamson has recently proposed to undermine modal skepticism by appealing to the reducibility of modal to counterfactual logic ( Reducibility ). Central to Williamson’s strategy is the claim that use of the same non-deductive mode of inference ( counterfactual development , or CD ) whereby we typically arrive at knowledge of counterfactuals suffices for arriving at knowledge of metaphysical necessity via Reducibility. Granting Reducibility, I ask whether the use of CD plays any essential role (...) in a Reducibility-based reply to two kinds of modal skepticism. I argue that its use is entirely dispensable, and that Reducibility makes available replies to modal skeptics which show certain propositions to be metaphysically necessary by deductive arguments from premises the modal skeptic accepts can be known. Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-19 DOI 10.1007/s11098-011-9784-4 Authors Juhani Yli-Vakkuri, Wolfson College, Oxford University, Oxford, OX2 6UD UK Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116. (shrink)
Can we have a posteriori knowledge of modal facts? And if so, is that knowledge fundamentally a posteriori, or does a priori intuition provide the modal component of what is known? Though the latter view seems more straightforward, there are also reasons for taking the first option seriously.
The article argues against attempts to combine ontological realism about modality with the rejection of modal rationalism and it suggests that modal realism requires (at least a weak form of) modal rationalism. /// El artículo da argumentos en contra de que se intente combinar el realismo ontológico sobre la modalidad con el rechazo del racionalismo modal y sugiere que el realismo modal exige (por lo menos una forma débil de) racionalismo modal.
In recent work Timothy Williamson argues that the epistemology of metaphysical modality is a special case of the epistemology of counterfactuals. I argue that Williamson has not provided an adequate argument for this controversial claim, and that it is not obvious how what he says should be supplemented in order to derive such an argument. But I suggest that an important moral of his discussion survives this point. The moral is that experience could play an epistemic role which is more (...) epistemically significant than a mere 'enabling' role but not equivalent to an evidential role. (shrink)
Modal epistemology has been dominated by a focus on establishing an account either of how we have modalknowledge or how we have justified beliefs about modality. One component of this focus has been that necessity and possibility are basic access points for modal reasoning. For example, knowing that P is necessary plays a role in deducing that P is essential, and knowing that both P and ¬P are possible plays a role in knowing that P (...) is accidental. Chalmers (2002) and Williamson (2007) provide two good examples of contrasting views in modal epistemology that focus on providing an account of modalknowledge where necessity and possibility are basic access points for modalknowledge, and Yablo (1993) provides a good account of how we have justified beliefs about modality. In contrast to this tradition I argue for and outline a modal epistemology based on objectual understanding and essence, rather than knowledge or justification and necessity and possibility. The account employs a non-modal conception of essence and takes objectual understanding of essence, rather than knowledge of essence to be basic in modal reasoning. I begin by articulating Kvanvig’s (2003) account of objectual understanding, on which objectual understanding of Φ is not equivalent to propositional knowledge of Φ. I then argue that an epistemology of essence that uses property variation-in-imagination is better construed as a model that delivers objectual understanding of essence rather than knowledge of essence. I argue that this is so, since the latter and not the former runs into a version of the Meno paradox. I show how this account can be applied to two issues in modal epistemology: the Benacerraf problem for modality, and the architecture of modalknowledge. (shrink)
This article is a discussion of Hume's maxim Nothing we imagine is absolutely impossible. First I explain this maxim and distinguish it from the principle Whatever cannot be imagined (conceived), is impossible. Next I argue that Thomas Reid's criticism of the maxim fails and that the arguments by Tamar Szábo Gendler and John Hawthorne for the claim that "it is uncontroversial that there are cases where we are misled" by the maxim are unconvincing. Finally I state the limited but real (...) value of the maxim: it does help us, in certain cases, reliably to make up our minds. Along the way I show that Reid, his criticism of the maxim notwithstanding, actually employs it, and I furthermore argue that the principle What is inconceivable, is impossible is spurious. (shrink)
We present a framework for intensional reasoning in typed -calculus. In this family of calculi, called Modal Pure Type Systems (MPTSs), a propositions-as-types-interpretation can be given for normal modal logics. MPTSs are an extension of the Pure Type Systems (PTSs) of Barendregt (1992). We show that they retain the desirable meta-theoretical properties of PTSs, and briefly discuss applications in the area of knowledge representation.
The paper surveys the currently available axiomatizations of common belief (CB) and common knowledge (CK) by means of modal propositional logics. (Throughout, knowledge ‚Äî whether individual or common ‚Äî is defined as true belief.) Section 1 introduces the formal method of axiomatization followed by epistemic logicians, especially the syntax-semantics distinction, and the notion of a soundness and completeness theorem. Section 2 explains the syntactical concepts, while briefly discussing their motivations. Two standard semantic constructions, Kripke structures and neighbourhood (...) structures, are introduced in Sections 3 and 4, respectively. It is recalled that Aumann's partitional model of CK is a particular case of a definition in terms of Kripke structures. The paper also restates the well-known fact that Kripke structures can be regarded as particular cases of neighbourhood structures. Section 3 reviews the soundness and completeness theorems proved w.r.t. the former structures by Fagin, Halpern, Moses and Vardi, as well as related results by Lismont. Section 4 reviews the corresponding theorems derived w.r.t. the latter structures by Lismont and Mongin. A general conclusion of the paper is that the axiomatization of CB does not require as strong systems of individual belief as was originally thought ‚Äî onlymonotonicity has thusfar proved indispensable. Section 5 explains another consequence of general relevance: despite the ‚Äúinfinitary‚Äù nature of CB, the axiom systems of this paper admit of effective decision procedures, i.e., they aredecidable in the logician's sense. (shrink)
By the lights of a central logical positivist thesis in modal epistemology, for every necessary truth that we know, we know it a priori and for every contingent truth that we know, we know it a posteriori. Kripke attacks on both flanks, arguing that we know necessary a posteriori truths and that we probably know contingent a priori truths. In a reflection of Kripke's confidence in his own arguments, the first of these Kripkean claims is far more widely accepted (...) than the second. Contrary to received opinion, the paper argues, the considerations Kripke adduces concerning truths purported to be necessary a posteriori do not disprove the logical positivist thesis that necessary truth and a priori truth are co-extensive. (shrink)
The question of whether knowledge is definable in terms of belief, which has played an important role in epistemology for the last 50 years, is studied here in the framework of epistemic and doxastic logics. Three notions of definability are considered: explicit definability, implicit definability, and reducibility, where explicit definability is equivalent to the combination of implicit definability and reducibility. It is shown that if knowledge satisfies any set of axioms contained in S5, then it cannot be explicitly (...) defined in terms of belief. S5 knowledge can be implicitly defined by belief, but not reduced to it. On the other hand, S4.4 knowledge and weaker notions of knowledge cannot be implicitly defined by belief, but can be reduced to it by defining knowledge as true belief. It is also shown that S5 knowledge cannot be reduced to belief and justification, provided that there are no axioms that involve both belief and justification. (shrink)
This is a largely expository paper in which the following simple idea is pursued. Take the truth value of a formula to be the set of agents that accept the formula as true. This means we work with an arbitrary (finite) Boolean algebra as the truth value space. When this is properly formalized, complete modal tableau systems exist, and there are natural versions of bisimulations that behave well from an algebraic point of view. There remain significant problems concerning the (...) proper formalization, in this context, of natural language statements, particularly those involving negative knowledge and common knowledge. A case study is presented which brings these problems to the fore. None of the basic material presented here is new to this paper—all has appeared in several papers over many years, by the present author and by others. Much of the development in the literature is more general than here—we have confined things to the Boolean case for simplicity and clarity. Most proofs are omitted, but several of the examples are new. The main virtue of the present paper is its coherent presentation of a systematic point of view—identify the truth value of a formula with the set of those who say the formula is true. (shrink)
In attempting to build intelligent litigation support tools, we have moved beyond first generation, production rule legal expert systems. Our work integrates rule based and case based reasoning with intelligent information retrieval.When using the case based reasoning methodology, or in our case the specialisation of case based retrieval, we need to be aware of how to retrieve relevant experience. Our research, in the legal domain, specifies an approach to the retrieval problem which relies heavily on an extended object oriented/rule based (...) system architecture that is supplemented with causal background information. We use a distributed agent architecture to help support the reasoning process of lawyers. (shrink)
We study a knowledge logic that assumes that to each set of agents, an indiscernibility relation is associated and the agents decide the membership of objects or states up to this indiscernibility relation. Its language contains a family of relative knowledge operators. We prove the decidability of the satisfiability problem, we show its EXPTIME-completeness and as a side-effect, we define a complete Hilbert-style axiomatization.
Many important metaphysical arguments validly deduce an actuality from a possibility. For example: Because it is possible for me to exist in the absence of anything material, I am not my body. I argue that there is no reason to suppose that our capacity for modal judgment is equal to the task of determining whether the "possibility" premise of any of these arguments is true. I connect this thesis with Stephen Yablo's recent work on the epistemology of modal (...) statements. (shrink)
We prove completeness and decidability results for a family of combinations of propositional dynamic logic and unimodal doxastic logics in which the modalities may interact. The kind of interactions we consider include three forms of commuting axioms, namely, axioms similar to the axiom of perfect recall and the axiom of no learning from temporal logic, and a Church–Rosser axiom. We investigate the influence of the substitution rule on the properties of these logics and propose a new semantics for the test (...) operator to avoid unwanted side effects caused by the interaction of the classic test operator with the extra interaction axioms. (shrink)
The thesis that every truth is knowable is usually glossed by decomposing knowability into possibility and knowledge. Under elementary assumptions about possibility and knowledge, considered as modal operators, the thesis collapses the distinction between truth and knowledge (as shown by the so-called Fitch-argument). We show that there is a more plausible interpretation of knowability—one that does not decompose the notion in the usual way—to which the Fitch-argument does not apply. We call this the potential knowledge-interpretation (...) of knowability. We compare our interpretation with the rephrasal of knowability proposed by Edgington and Rabinowicz and Segerberg, inserting an actuality-operator. This proposal shares some key features with ours but suffers from requiring specific transworld-knowledge. We observe that potential knowledge involves no transworld-knowledge. We describe the logic of potential knowledge by providing models for interpreting the new operator. Finally we show that the knowability thesis can be added to elementary conditions on potential knowledge without collapsing modal distinctions. (shrink)
In this paper, the author defends Peter van Inwagen’s modal skepticism. Van Inwagen accepts that we have much basic, everyday modalknowledge, but denies that we have the capacity to justify philosophically interesting modal claims that are far removed from this basic knowledge. The author also defends the argument by means of which van Inwagen supports his modal skepticism, offering a rebuttal to an objection along the lines of that proposed by Geirrson. Van Inwagen (...) argues that Stephen Yablo’s recent and influential account of the relationship between conceivability and possibility supports his skeptical claims. The author’s defence involves a creative interpretation and development of Yablo’s account, which results in a recursive account of modal epistemology, what the author calls the “safe explanation” theory of modal epistemology. (shrink)
Kripke claims that there are necessary a posteriori truths and contingent a priori truths. These claims challenge the traditional Kantian view that (K) All knowledge of necessary truths is a priori and all a priori knowledge is of necessary truths. Kripke’s claims continue to be resisted, which indicates that the Kantian view remains attractive. My goal is to identify the most plausible principles linking the epistemic and the modal. My strategy for identifying the principles is to investigate (...) two related questions. Are there compelling general supporting arguments for (K)? Are there decisive counterexamples to (K)? My investigation uncovers two intuitively plausible principles that are not open to decisive counterexamples but which enjoy no compelling independent support. (shrink)
I formulate and defend two sceptical theses on specific parts of our modalknowledge (unqualified and absolute modalities). My main point is that unqualified modal sentences are defective in that they fail to belong unambiguously to specific modal kinds and thus cannot be evaluated; hence, we must be sceptical of beliefs involving them.
In this article, I discuss Hawthorne's contextualist solution to Benacerraf's dilemma. He wants to find a satisfactory epistemology to go with realist ontology, namely with causally inaccessible mathematical and modal entities. I claim that he is unsuccessful. The contextualist theories of knowledge attributions were primarily developed as a response to the skeptical argument based on the deductive closure principle. Hawthorne uses the same strategy in his attempt to solve the epistemologist puzzle facing the proponents of mathematical and (...) class='Hi'>modal realism, but this problem is of a different nature than the skeptical one. The contextualist theory of knowledge attributions cannot help us with the question about the nature of mathematical and modal reality and how they can be known. I further argue that Hawthorne's account does not say anything about a priori status of mathematical and modalknowledge. Later, Hawthorne adds to his account an implausible claim that in some contexts a gettierized belief counts as knowledge. (shrink)
We provide a syntactic model of unawareness. By introducing multiple knowledge modalities, one for each sub-language, we specifically model agents whose only mistake in reasoning (other than their unawareness) is to underestimate the knowledge of more aware agents. We show that the model is a complete and sound axiomatization of the set-theoretic model of Galanis (University of Southampton Discussion paper 709, 2007) and compare it with other unawareness models in the literature.
This book gathers together thirteen of Peter van Inwagen's essays on metaphysics, several of which have acquired the status of modern classics in their field. They range widely across such topics as Quine's philosophy of quantification, the ontology of fiction, the part-whole relation, the theory of 'temporal parts', and human knowledge of modal truths. In addition, van Inwagen considers the question as to whether the psychological continuity theory of personal identity is compatible with materialism, and defends the thesis (...) that possible states of affairs are abstract objects, in opposition to David Lewis's 'extreme modal realism'. A specially-written introduction completes the collection, which will be an invaluable resource for anyone interested in metaphysics. (shrink)
Standard Kripke models are inadequate to model situations of inexact knowledge with introspection, since positive and negative introspection force the relation of epistemic indiscernibility to be transitive and euclidean. Correlatively, Williamson’s margin for error semantics for inexact knowledge invalidates axioms 4 and 5. We present a new semantics for modal logic which is shown to be complete for K45, without constraining the accessibility relation to be transitive or euclidean. The semantics corresponds to a system of modular (...) class='Hi'>knowledge, in which iterated modalities and simple modalities are not on a par. We show how the semantics helps to solve Williamson’s luminosity paradox, and argue that it corresponds to an integrated model of perceptual and introspective knowledge that is psychologically more plausible than the one defended by Williamson. We formulate a generalized version of the semantics, called token semantics, in which modalities are iteration-sensitive up to degree n and insensitive beyond n. The multi-agent version of the semantics yields a resource-sensitive logic with implications for the representation of common knowledge in situations of bounded rationality. (shrink)
Peirce algebras combine sets, relations and various operations linking the two in a unifying setting. This paper offers a modal perspective on Peirce algebras. Using modal logic a characterization of the full Peirce algebras is given, as well as a finite axiomatization of their equational theory that uses so-called unorthodox derivation rules. In addition, the expressive power of Peirce algebras is analyzed through their connection with first-order logic, and the fragment of first-order logic corresponding to Peirce algebras is (...) described in terms of bisimulations. (shrink)
Modal logic has been applied in many different areas, as reasoning about time, knowledge and belief, necessity and possibility, to mention only some examples. In the present paper, an attempt is made to use modal logic to account for the semantics of theoretical sentences in scientific language. Theoretical sentences have been studied extensively since the work of Ramsey and Carnap. The present attempt at a modal analysis is motivated by there being several intended interpretations of the (...) theoretical terms once these terms are introduced through the axioms of a theory. (shrink)
The post-Gettier literature contained many views that tried to solve the Gettier problem by appealing to the notion of defeat. Unfortunately, all of these views are false. The failure of these views greatly contributed to a general distrust of reasons in epistemology. However, reasons are making a comeback in epistemology, both in general and in the context of the Gettier problem. There are two main aims of this paper. First, I will argue against a natural defeat based resolution of the (...) Gettier problem. Second, I will defend my own defeat based solution. This solution appeals to a modal anti-luck condition. I will argue that this condition captures anti-luck intuitions and has virtues that rival modal anti-luck conditions lack. (shrink)
We propose a novel interpretation of natural-language questions using a modal predicate logic of knowledge. Our approach brings standard model-theoretic and proof-theoretic techniques from modal logic to bear on questions. Using the former, we show that our interpretation preserves Groenendijk and Stokhof's answerhood relation, yet allows an extensional interpretation. Using the latter, we get a sound and complete proof procedure for the logic for free. Our approach is more expressive; for example, it easily treats complex questions with (...) operators that scope over questions. We suggest a semantic criterion that restricts what natural-language questions can express. We integrate and generalize much previous work on the semantics of questions, including Beck and Sharvit's families of subquestions, non-exhaustive questions, and multi-party conversations. (shrink)