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  1. Two Puzzles About Ability Can.Malte Willer - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy:1-36.
    The received wisdom on ability modals is that they differ from their epistemic and deontic cousins in what inferences they license and better receive a universal or conditional analysis instead of an existential one. The goal of this paper is to sharpen the empirical picture about the semantics of ability modals, and to propose an analysis that explains what makes the can of ability so special but that also preserves the crucial idea that all uses of can share a common (...)
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  2. Free Choice and Homogeneity.Simon Goldstein - 2019 - Semantics and Pragmatics 12:1-48.
    This paper develops a semantic solution to the puzzle of Free Choice permission. The paper begins with a battery of impossibility results showing that Free Choice is in tension with a variety of classical principles, including Disjunction Introduction and the Law of Excluded Middle. Most interestingly, Free Choice appears incompatible with a principle concerning the behavior of Free Choice under negation, Double Prohibition, which says that Mary can’t have soup or salad implies Mary can’t have soup and Mary can’t have (...)
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  3. Conditionals.Anthony Gillies - 2017 - In Bob Hale, Crispin Wright & Alexander Miller (eds.), A Companion to the Philosophy of Language.
  4. Simplifying with Free Choice.Malte Willer - 2018 - Topoi 37 (3):379-392.
    This paper offers a unified semantic explanation of two observations that prove to be problematic for classical analyses of modals, conditionals, and disjunctions: the fact that disjunctions scoping under possibility modals give rise to the free choice effect and the fact that counterfactuals license simplification of disjunctive antecedents. It shows that the data are well explained by a dynamic semantic analysis of modals and conditionals that uses ideas from the inquisitive semantic tradition in its treatment of disjunction. The analysis explains (...)
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  5. Necessity and Propositions.Tristan Haze - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Sydney
    Some​ ​propositions​ ​are​ ​not​ ​only​ ​true,​ ​but​ ​could​ ​not​ ​have​ ​been​ ​otherwise. This​ ​thesis​ ​is​ ​about​ ​modality​ ​and​ ​the​ ​philosophy​ ​of​ ​language.​ ​Its​ ​centrepiece​ ​is​ ​a​ ​new​ ​account​ ​of the​ ​conditions​ ​under​ ​which​ ​a​ ​proposition​ ​is​ ​necessarily​ ​true​ ​in​ ​the​ ​above​ ​sense.
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  6. Agentive Modals.Matthew Mandelkern, Ginger Schultheis & David Boylan - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (3):301-343.
    This essay proposes a new theory of agentive modals: ability modals and their duals, compulsion modals. After criticizing existing approaches—the existential quantificational analysis, the universal quantificational analysis, and the conditional analysis—it presents a new account that builds on both the existential and conditional analyses. On this account, the act conditional analysis, a sentence like ‘John can swim across the river’ says that there is some practically available action that is such that if John tries to do it, he swims across (...)
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  7. Paradigm Terms: The Necessity of Kind Term Identifications Generalized.Christian Nimtz - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):124-140.
    Standard Kripke-Putnam semantics is widely taken to entail that theoretical identifications like ‘Brontosauruses are Apatosauruses’ or ‘Gold is 79Au’ are necessary, if true. I offer a new diagnosis as to why this modal consequence ensues. Central to my diagnosis is the concept of a paradigm term. I argue that modal and epistemic peculiarities that are commonly considered as distinctive of natural kind expressions are in fact traits that are shared by paradigm terms in general. Philosophical semantics should broaden its focus (...)
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  8. Modal Predicates.John Maier - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (6):443-457.
    I propose a semantics for a class of English predicates characteristically associated with possibility. The central idea is that such predicates are typically associated with an ordering source, and that differences among them are due to differences in their ordering sources. The ‘dispositional predicates’ that have been central to philosophical discussions are shown to be derivable as a special case from this more general class.
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  9. T×W Epistemic Modality.Andrea Iacona - 2014 - In Giovanni Macchia, Francesco Orilia & Vincenzo Fano (eds.), Space and Time: A Priori and a Posteriori Studies. De Gruyter. pp. 195-208.
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  10. How Many Meanings for ‘May’? The Case for Modal Polysemy.Barbara Vetter & Emanuel Viebahn - 2016 - Philosophers' Imprint 16.
    The standard Kratzerian analysis of modal auxiliaries, such as ‘may’ and ‘can’, takes them to be univocal and context-sensitive. Our first aim is to argue for an alternative view, on which such expressions are polysemous. Our second aim is to thereby shed light on the distinction between semantic context-sensitivity and polysemy. To achieve these aims, we examine the mechanisms of polysemy and context-sensitivity and provide criteria with which they can be held apart. We apply the criteria to modal auxiliaries and (...)
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  11. Must, Knowledge, and Directness.Daniel Lassiter - 2016 - Natural Language Semantics 24 (2):117-163.
    This paper presents corpus and experimental data that problematize the traditional analysis of must as a strong necessity modal, as recently revived and defended by von Fintel and Gillies :351–383, 2010). I provide naturalistic examples showing that must p can be used alongside an explicit denial of knowledge of p or certainty in p, and that it can be conjoined with an expression indicating that p is not certain or that not-p is possible. I also report the results of an (...)
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  12. Epistemic Modals and Sensitivity to Contextually‐Salient Partitions.Andy Demfree Yu - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (2):134-146.
    Expressivists and relativists about epistemic modals often motivate their view by arguing against contextualist treatments of certain cases. However, I argue that even expressivists and relativists should consider being a kind of contextualist. Specifically, data involving mixed disjunctions motivate taking epistemic modals to be sensitive to contextually-salient partitions, and thus context-sensitive.
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  13. Free Choice Permission is Strong Permission.Nicholas Asher & Daniel Bonevac - 2005 - Synthese 145 (3):303-323.
    Free choice permission, a crucial test case concerning the semantics/ pragmatics boundary, usually receives a pragmatic treatment. But its pragmatic features follow from its semantics. We observe that free choice inferences are defeasible, and defend a semantics of free choice permission as strong permission expressed in terms of a modal conditional in a nonmonotonic logic.
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  14. Whither Anankastics?Billy Dunaway & Alex Silk - 2014 - Philosophical Perspectives 28 (1):75-94.
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  15. Structuralist Modals and the Combination of Logics.Arnold Koslow - 2011 - Logic Journal of the IGPL 19 (4):584-597.
    The original motivation of D. Gabbay’s concept of Fibring concerned the combination of logics, and initially it involved the syntactic introduction of modals into formulations of intuitionistic logic in which modals are syntactically absent. We show, using the notion of structural modals that there are many modals of intuitionism, and logics for subjunctive and epistemic conditionals which are not syntactically evident in our best formulations of them. We discuss some cases when the attempt to make them syntactically evident can have (...)
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  16. PALMER, F. R., "Modality and the English Modals". [REVIEW]V. H. Dudman - 1980 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 58:420.
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  17. Why 'Ought' Detaches: Or, Why You Ought to Get with My Friends (If You Want to Be My Lover).Alex Silk - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14.
    This paper argues that a standard analysis of modals from formal semantics suggests a solution to the detaching problem — the problem of whether un-embedded 'ought'-claims can "detach" (be derived) from hypothetical imperatives and their antecedent conditions. On a broadly Kratzerian analysis, modals have a skeletal conventional meaning and receive a particular reading (e.g., deontic, epistemic, teleological) only relative to certain forms of contextual supplementation. I argue that 'ought'-claims can detach — subject to an important qualification — but only as (...)
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  18. An Opinionated Guide to Epistemic Modality.Kai von Fintel & Gillies & Anthony - 2007 - In Tamar Szabo Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.), Oxford Studies in Epistemology: Volume 2. Oxford University Press.
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  19. 4лт as Inherently Modal5.Veneeta Dayal - 1998 - Linguistics and Philosophy 21 (5):433-476.
    The primary theoretical focus of this paper is on Free Choice uses of any, in particular on two phenomena that have remained largely unstudied. One involves the ability of any phrases to occur in affirmative episodic statements when aided by suitable noun modifiers. The other involves the difference between modals of necessity and possibility with respect to licensing of any. The central thesis advanced here is that FC any is a universal determiner whose domain of quantification is not a set (...)
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  20. Modality and Temporality.Condoravdi Cleo & Kaufmann Stefan - 2005 - Journal of Semantics 22 (2):119-128.
    The present collection addresses a number of issues in the semantic interpretation of modal and temporal expressions. Despite the variety the papers exhibit both in the selection of topics and the choice of formal frameworks, they are interconnected through several overarching themes that are at the centre of much ongoing research. The purpose of this brief introduction is to put the papers into context and draw the reader's attention to some of these connections. The topics we will discuss in the (...)
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  21. Schedules in a Temporal Interpretation of Modals.Fernando Tim - 2005 - Journal of Semantics 22 (2):211-229.
    Eventualities and worlds are analysed uniformly as schedules of certain descriptions of eventuality-types (reversing the reduction of eventuality-types to eventualities). The temporal interpretation of modals in Condoravdi 2002 is reformulated to bring out what it is about eventualities and worlds that is essential to the account. What is essential, it is claimed, can be recovered from schedules that may or may not include worlds.
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  22. The Category Status of English Modals.James D. McCawley - 1975 - Foundations of Language 12 (4):597-601.
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  23. Modal Conversational Backgrounds and Evidential Bases in Predictions: The View From the Italian Modals.Andrea Rocci - 2013 - In Kasia M. Jaszczolt & Louis de Saussure (eds.), Time: Language, Cognition & Reality. Oxford University Press. pp. 1--128.
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  24. Epistemic Modals and Correct Disagreement.Richard Dietz - 2008 - In G. Carpintero & M. Koelbel (eds.), Relative Truth. Oxford University Press. pp. 239--264.
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  25. Temporal and Circumstantial Dependence in Counterfactual Modals.Dorit Abusch - 2007 - In Dekker Aloni (ed.), Proceedings of the Sixteenth Amsterdam Colloquium.
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  26. Modality and Language.Kai Von Fintel - 2006 - In D. Borchert (ed.), Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Macmillan Reference. pp. 20-27.
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  27. Sind Vermögensprädikationen Modalaussagen?Ludger Jansen - 2000 - In Ontologie der Modalitäten. pp. 179-193.
    Aristoteles unterscheidet zwischen zwei Arten, das Wort „dynaton" zu gebrauchen. Die erste dieser beiden Verwendungsweisen dient zur Zuschreibung von Vermögen (dynaton kata dynamin), die zweite entspricht unserer Verwendung des logisch-alethischen Modaloperators „Es ist möglich, dass" (dynaton ou kata dynamin). Ich argumentiere dafür, dass wichtige Unterschiede zwischen Vermögensprädikationen und Modalaussagen bestehen. Ich nenne mehrere Gründe dafür, dass Vermögensprädikationen keine Modalaussagen sind, zeige aber auch, dass Vermögensprädikationen zwei modale Elemente haben: Sie implizieren erstens nichttriviale Modalaussagen, weil es keine Vermögen für Unmögliches gibt. (...)
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  28. Modality in Swedish.Erik Andersson - 2003 - Revue Belge de Philologie Et D’Histoire 81 (3):845-865.
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  29. Modal Indefinites.Luis Alonso-Ovalle & Paula Menéndez-Benito - 2010 - Natural Language Semantics 18 (1):1-31.
    Across languages, we find indefinites that trigger modal inferences. This article contributes to a semantic typology of these items by contrasting Spanish algún with indefinites like German irgendein or Italian uno qualsiasi. While irgendein-type indefinites trigger a Free Choice effect (Kratzer and Shimoyama 2002; Chierchia 2006), algún simply signals that at least two individuals in its domain are possibilities. Additionally, algún, but not irgendein, can convey that the speaker does not know how many individuals satisfy the existential claim in the (...)
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  30. Detaching If-Clauses From Should.Ana Arregui - 2010 - Natural Language Semantics 18 (3):241-293.
    This paper investigates some aspects of the semantics of deontic should-conditionals. The main objective is to understand which actual world facts make deontic statements true. The starting point for the investigation is a famous puzzle known as Chisholm’s Paradox. It is important because making sense of the data in Chisholm-style examples involves arriving at some conclusion regarding the interaction between what we consider ideal and what is actually true. I give an account of how facts affect the evaluation of should (...)
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  31. On the Event Relativity of Modal Auxiliaries.Valentine Hacquard - 2010 - Natural Language Semantics 18 (1):79-114.
    Crosslinguistically, the same modal words can be used to express a wide range of interpretations. This crosslinguistic trend supports a Kratzerian analysis, where each modal has a core lexical entry and where the difference between an epistemic and a root interpretation is contextually determined. A long-standing problem for such a unified account is the equally robust crosslinguistic correlation between a modal’s interpretation and its syntactic behavior: epistemics scope high (in particular higher than tense and aspect) and roots low, a fact (...)
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  32. Two New Challenges for the Modal Account of the Progressive.Douglas J. Wulf - 2009 - Natural Language Semantics 17 (3):205-218.
    The progressive in English appears to be inherently modal, due to what Dowty (Word meaning and Montague grammar: The semantics of verbs and times in generative semantics and in Montague’s PTQ, 1979) terms the imperfective paradox. In truth-conditional accounts, the literal truth of a clause with the modal progressive hinges on the possibility of the described outcome. The clause’s truth under such accounts has also been tacitly assumed to describe its felicitous use. Two challenges for this strategy are discussed. First, (...)
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  33. Why Will is Not a Modal.Mikhail Kissine - 2008 - Natural Language Semantics 16 (2):129-155.
    In opposition to a common assumption, this paper defends the idea that the auxiliary verb will has no other semantic contribution in contemporary English than a temporal shift towards the future with respect to the utterance time. Strong reasons for rejecting the idea that will quantifies over possible worlds are presented. Given the adoption of Lewis’s and Kratzer’s views on modality, the alleged ‘modal’ uses of will are accounted for by a pragmatic mechanism which restricts the domain of the covert (...)
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  34. Modals as Distributive Indefinites.Hotze Rullmann, Lisa Matthewson & Henry Davis - 2008 - Natural Language Semantics 16 (4):317-357.
    Modals in St’át’imcets (Lillooet Salish) show two differences from their counterparts in English. First, they have variable quantificational force, systematically allowing both possibility and necessity interpretations; and second, they lexically restrict the conversational background, distinguishing for example between deontic and (several kinds of) epistemic modality. We provide an analysis of the St’át’imcets modals according to which they are akin to specific indefinites in the nominal domain. They introduce choice function variables which select a subset of the accessible worlds. Following Klinedinst, (...)
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  35. Free Choice, Modals, and Imperatives.Maria Aloni - 2007 - Natural Language Semantics 15 (1):65-94.
    The article proposes an analysis of imperatives and possibility and necessity statements that (i) explains their differences with respect to the licensing of free choice any and (ii) accounts for the related phenomena of free choice disjunction in imperatives, permissions, and statements. Any and or are analyzed as operators introducing sets of alternative propositions. Free choice licensing operators are treated as quantifiers over these sets. In this way their interpretation can be sensitive to the alternatives any and or introduce in (...)
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  36. When Aspect Matters: The Case of Would-Conditionals. [REVIEW]Ana Arregui - 2007 - Natural Language Semantics 15 (3):221-264.
    Differences in the interpretation of would-conditionals with simple (perfective) and perfect antecedent clauses are marked enough to discourage a unified view. However, this paper presents a unified, Lewis–Stalnaker style semantics for the modal in such constructions. Differences in the interpretation of the conditionals are derived from the interaction between the interpretation of different types of aspect and the modal. The paper makes a distinction between perfective and perfect aspect in terms of whether they make reference to or quantify over Lewis-style (...)
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  37. Adjectives, Stereotypicality, and Comparison.Eric McCready & Norry Ogata - 2007 - Natural Language Semantics 15 (1):35-63.
    Japanese has a large number of evidential and modal expressions. Many of the inferential evidentials – mitai, yoo, rashii – also have an adjectival use. On this use, they make a claim about the prototypicality of some object or individual with respect to another class of object, in the case of rashii, or about the similarity of these two objects, for yoo and mitai. This paper provides a compositional semantics for these adjectives, claiming that they are evaluated in terms of (...)
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  38. Future and Non-Future Modal Sentences.Tom Werner - 2006 - Natural Language Semantics 14 (3):235-255.
    In this paper, I argue for two principles to determine the temporal interpretation of modal sentences in English, given a theory in which modals are interpreted against double conversational backgrounds and an ontology in which possible worlds branch towards the future, The Disparity Principle requires that a modal sentence makes distinctions between worlds in the modal base. The Non- disparity Principle requires that a modal sentence does not make distinctions on the basis of facts settled at speech time. Selection of (...)
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  39. Free Choice Disjunction and Epistemic Possibility.Thomas Ede Zimmermann - 2000 - Natural Language Semantics 8 (4):255-290.
    This paper offers an explanation of the fact that sentences of the form (1) ‘X may A or B’ may be construed as implying (2) ‘X may A and X may B’, especially if they are used to grant permission. It is suggested that the effect arises because disjunctions are conjunctive lists of epistemic possibilities. Consequently, if the modal may is itself epistemic, (1) comes out as equivalent to (2), due to general laws of epistemic logic. On the other hand, (...)
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  40. Epistemic Modality. [REVIEW]Malte Willer - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (4):641-647.
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  41. Epistemic Modals and Common Ground.Ezra Cook - 2013 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 56 (2-3):179-209.
    This paper considers some questions related to the determination of epistemic modal domains. Specifically, given situations in which groups of agents have epistemic states that bear on a modal domain, how is the domain best restricted? This is a metasemantic project, in which I combine a standard semantics for epistemic modals, as developed by Kratzer, with a standard story about conversational dynamics, as developed by Stalnaker. I show how a standard framework for epistemic logic can model their interaction. I contend (...)
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  42. Entertaining Alternatives: Disjunctions as Modals.Bart Geurts - 2005 - Natural Language Semantics 13 (4):383-410.
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  43. Deliberative Modality Under Epistemic Uncertainty.Fabrizio Cariani, Magdalena Kaufmann & Stefan Kaufmann - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (3):225-259.
    We discuss the semantic significance of a puzzle concerning ‘ought’ and conditionals recently discussed by Kolodny and MacFarlane. We argue that the puzzle is problematic for the standard Kratzer-style analysis of modality. In Kratzer’s semantics, modals are evaluated relative to a pair of conversational backgrounds. We show that there is no sensible way of assigning values to these conversational backgrounds so as to derive all of the intuitions in Kolodny and MacFarlane’s case. We show that the appropriate verdicts can be (...)
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  44. Epistemic and Deontic Should.Fabrizio Cariani - 2013 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 2 (1):73-84.
    Probabilistic theories of “should” and “ought” face a predicament. At first blush, it seems that such theories must provide different lexical entries for the epistemic and the deontic interpretations of these modals. I show that there is a new style of premise semantics that can avoid this consequence in an attractively conservative way.
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  45. Invariantism About 'Can' and 'May' (as Well as 'Might').David Braun - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (2):181-185.
    Braun (Linguistics & Philosophy 35, 461–489, 2012) argued for a non- relativist, invariantist theory of ‘might’. Yanovich (Linguistics & Philosophy, 2013) argues that Braun’s theory is inconsistent with certain facts concerning diachronic meaning changes in ‘might’, ‘can’, and ‘may’. This paper replies to Yanovich’s objection.
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  46. Invariantist ‘Might’ and Modal Meaning Change: A Reply to Braun.Igor Yanovich - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (2):175-180.
    Invariantism proposed by Braun (Linguistics and Philosophy 35(6):461–489, 2012) aims to maintain full identity of semantic content between all uses of ‘might’. I invoke well-known facts regarding diachronic change in meanings of modals to argue that invariantism commits us to implausible duplication of familiar processes of lexical semantic change on the level of “lexical pragmatics”, with no obvious payoff.
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  47. Evidence Sensitivity in Weak Necessity Deontic Modals.Alex Silk - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (4):691-723.
    Kolodny and MacFarlane have made a pioneering contribution to our understanding of how the interpretation of deontic modals can be sensitive to evidence and information. But integrating the discussion of information-sensitivity into the standard Kratzerian framework for modals suggests ways of capturing the relevant data without treating deontic modals as “informational modals” in their sense. I show that though one such way of capturing the data within the standard semantics fails, an alternative does not. Nevertheless I argue that we have (...)
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  48. Logic and Semantics for Imperatives.Nate Charlow - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (4):617-664.
    In this paper I will develop a view about the semantics of imperatives, which I term Modal Noncognitivism, on which imperatives might be said to have truth conditions (dispositionally, anyway), but on which it does not make sense to see them as expressing propositions (hence does not make sense to ascribe to them truth or falsity). This view stands against “Cognitivist” accounts of the semantics of imperatives, on which imperatives are claimed to express propositions, which are then enlisted in explanations (...)
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  49. An Invariantist Theory of 'Might' Might Be Right.David Braun - 2012 - Linguistics and Philosophy 35 (6):461-489.
    Invariantism about ‘might’ says that ‘might’ semantically expresses the same modal property in every context. This paper presents and defends a version of invariantism. According to it, ‘might’ semantically expresses the same weak modal property in every context. However, speakers who utter sentences containing ‘might’ typically assert propositions concerning stronger types of modality, including epistemic modality. This theory can explain the phenomena that motivate contextualist theories of epistemic uses of ‘might’, and can be defended from objections of the sort that (...)
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  50. Modal Superlatives: A Compositional Analysis. [REVIEW]Maribel Romero - 2013 - Natural Language Semantics 21 (1):79-110.
    Superlative adjectives accompanied by certain modal adjectives like possible (e.g. John bought the largest possible present) are ambiguous between a reading where possible is a regular noun modifier and a reading paraphrasable as ‘as Adj as possible’, called ‘modal superlative reading’. Three interesting restrictions have been observed in the literature. First, possible and some other adjectives ending in -able, but not potential and probable, support the latter reading. Second, when the modal adjective appears postnominally, only the modal superlative reading is (...)
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