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Philosophical Review 117 (1):77-98 (2008)

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  1. Relativism and Faultless Disagreement.Richard Hou & Linton Wang - 2013 - Philosophia 41 (1):203-216.
    The argument from faultless disagreement employed by the relativist purports to show that contextualism falls short of explaining cases of faultless disagreement. The demonstration is intended to give credence to the relativist semantics of epistemic modality expressions. In this paper we present some cases showing that even though cases of faultless disagreement do reveal some intrinsic features of epistemic modality claims, they do not support the relativist semantics. The sophistication of faultless disagreement goes beyond what the relativist semantics can cope (...)
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  • How to Do Things with Modals.Matthew Mandelkern - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
    In a brief discussion of epistemic modals, Wittgenstein (1953) warns against ‘regard[ing] a hesitant assertion as an assertion of hesitancy’. A modal claim like ‘It might be raining’, the thought goes, should not be regarded as an assertion of the speaker's uncertainty as to whether or not it is raining, but rather as something quite different in kind: a proposal to treat the possibility of rain as live. Wittgenstein’s admonition has, in recent years, been at the heart of arguments that, (...)
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  • A Case for a Certainty Norm of Assertion.Esben Nedenskov Petersen - 2019 - Synthese 196 (11):4691-4710.
    According to the widely endorsed Knowledge Account of Assertion, the epistemic requirements on assertion are captured by the Knowledge Norm of Assertion, which requires speakers only to assert what they know. This paper proposes that in addition to the Knowledge Norm there is also an Epistemic Propositional Certainty Norm of Assertion, which enjoins speakers only to assert p if they believe that p on the basis of evidence which makes p an epistemic propositional certainty. The paper explains how this propositional (...)
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  • What the Future 'Might' Brings.David Boylan - forthcoming - Mind.
    This paper is about a puzzle about the interaction of epistemic modals and future tense. In cases of predictable forgetfulness, speakers cannot describe their future states of mind with epistemic modals under future tense, but promising theories of epistemic modals do not predict this. In section 1, I outline the puzzle. In section 2, I argue it undermines a very general approach to epistemic modals that draws a tight connection between epistemic modality and evidence. In section 3, I defend the (...)
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  • Occasion-Sensitive Semantics for Objective Predicates.Tamara Dobler - 2019 - Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (5):451-474.
    In this paper I propose a partition semantics for sentences containing objective predicates that takes into account the phenomenon of occasion-sensitivity associated with so-called Travis cases. The key idea is that the set of worlds in which a sentence is true has a more complex structure as a result of different ways in which it is made true. Different ways may have different capacities to support the attainment of a contextually salient domain goal. I suggest that goal-conduciveness decides whether some (...)
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  • Moral Disagreement and Moral Semantics.Justin Khoo & Joshua Knobe - 2016 - Noûs:109-143.
    When speakers utter conflicting moral sentences, it seems clear that they disagree. It has often been suggested that the fact that the speakers disagree gives us evidence for a claim about the semantics of the sentences they are uttering. Specifically, it has been suggested that the existence of the disagreement gives us reason to infer that there must be an incompatibility between the contents of these sentences. This inference then plays a key role in a now-standard argument against certain theories (...)
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  • Content in a Dynamic Context.Una Stojnić - 2019 - Noûs 53 (2):394-432.
    The standing tradition in theorizing about meaning, since at least Frege, identifies meaning with propositions, which are, or determine, the truth-conditions of a sentence in a context. But a recent trend has advocated a departure from this tradition: in particular, it has been argued that modal claims do not express standard propositional contents. This non-propositionalism has received different implementations in expressivist semantics and certain kinds of dynamic semantics. They maintain that the key aspect of interpretation of modal claims is the (...)
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  • Assessment Sensitivity: Relative Truth and its Applications.John MacFarlane - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
    John MacFarlane explores how we might make sense of the idea that truth is relative. He provides new, satisfying accounts of parts of our thought and talk that have resisted traditional methods of analysis, including what we mean when we talk about what is tasty, what we know, what will happen, what might be the case, and what we ought to do.
  • Naming and Epistemic Necessity.Dilip Ninan - forthcoming - Noûs.
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  • Quantification and Epistemic Modality.Dilip Ninan - 2018 - Philosophical Review 127 (4):433-485.
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  • Relativism 2: Semantic Content.Max Kölbel - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (1):52–67.
    In the pair of articles of which this is the second, I present a set of problems and philosophical proposals that have in recent years been associated with the term “relativism”. These problems are related to the question of how we should represent thought and speech about certain topics. The main issue is whether we should model such mental states or linguistic acts as involving representational contents that are absolutely correct or incorrect, or whether, alternatively, their correctness should be thought (...)
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  • Williamsonian Modal Epistemology, Possibility-Based.Barbara Vetter - 2016 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 46 (4-5):766-795.
    Williamsonian modal epistemology is characterized by two commitments: realism about modality, and anti-exceptionalism about our modal knowledge. Williamson’s own counterfactual-based modal epistemology is the best known implementation of WME, but not the only option that is available. I sketch and defend an alternative implementation which takes our knowledge of metaphysical modality to arise, not from knowledge of counterfactuals, but from our knowledge of ordinary possibility statements of the form ‘x can F’. I defend this view against a criticism indicated in (...)
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  • Reversibility or Disagreement.Jacob Ross & Mark Schroeder - 2013 - Mind 122 (485):43-84.
    The phenomenon of disagreement has recently been brought into focus by the debate between contextualists and relativist invariantists about epistemic expressions such as ‘might’, ‘probably’, indicative conditionals, and the deontic ‘ought’. Against the orthodox contextualist view, it has been argued that an invariantist account can better explain apparent disagreements across contexts by appeal to the incompatibility of the propositions expressed in those contexts. This paper introduces an important and underappreciated phenomenon associated with epistemic expressions — a phenomenon that we call (...)
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  • Full Belief and Loose Speech.Sarah Moss - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (3):255-291.
    This paper defends an account of full belief, including an account of its relationship to credence. Along the way, I address several familiar and difficult questions about belief. Does fully believing a proposition require having maximal confidence in it? Are rational beliefs closed under entailment, or does the preface paradox show that rational agents can believe inconsistent propositions? Does whether you believe a proposition depend partly on your practical interests? My account of belief resolves the tension between conflicting answers to (...)
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  • Dynamics of Epistemic Modality.Malte Willer - 2013 - Philosophical Review 122 (1):45-92.
    A dynamic semantics for epistemically modalized sentences is an attractive alternative to the orthodox view that our best theory of meaning ascribes to such sentences truth-conditions relative to what is known. This essay demonstrates that a dynamic theory about might and must offers elegant explanations of a range of puzzling observations about epistemic modals. The first part of the story offers a unifying treatment of disputes about epistemic modality and disputes about matters of fact while at the same time avoiding (...)
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  • Attitudes and Relativism.Brian Weatherson - 2008 - Philosophical Perspectives 22 (1):527-544.
    Data about attitude reports provide some of the most interesting arguments for, and against, various theses of semantic relativism. This paper is a short survey of three such arguments. First, I’ll argue (against recent work by von Fintel and Gillies) that relativists can explain the behaviour of relativistic terms in factive attitude reports. Second, I’ll argue (against Glanzberg) that looking at attitude reports suggests that relativists have a more plausible story to tell than contextualists about the division of labour between (...)
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  • The Significance of Ethical Disagreement for Theories of Ethical Thought and Talk.Gunnar Björnsson - 2017 - In Tristram McPherson & David Plunkett (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Metaethics. Routledge. pp. 275-291.
    This chapter has two sections, each focusing on a distinct way in which ethical disagreement and variations in ethical judgment matter for theories of ethical thought and talk. In the first section, we look at how the variation poses problems for both cognitivist and non-cognitivist ways of specifying the nature of ethical judgments. In the second, we look at how disagreement phenomena have been taken to undermine cognitivist accounts, but also at how the seeming variation in cognitive and non-cognitive contents (...)
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  • Epistemic Modals and Epistemic Modality.Brian Weatherson & Andy Egan - 2009 - In Andy Egan & Brian Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-18.
    There is a lot that we don’t know. That means that there are a lot of possibilities that are, epistemically speaking, open. For instance, we don’t know whether it rained in Seattle yesterday. So, for us at least, there is an epistemic possibility where it rained in Seattle yesterday, and one where it did not. It’s tempting to give a very simple analysis of epistemic possibility: • A possibility is an epistemic possibility if we do not know that it does (...)
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  • You Don't Say! Lying, Asserting and Insincerity.Neri Marsili - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Sheffield
    This thesis addresses philosophical problems concerning improper assertions. The first part considers the issue of defining lying: here, against a standard view, I argue that a lie need not intend to deceive the hearer. I define lying as an insincere assertion, and then resort to speech act theory to develop a detailed account of what an assertion is, and what can make it insincere. Even a sincere assertion, however, can be improper (e.g., it can be false, or unwarranted): in the (...)
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  • An Update on Epistemic Modals.Malte Willer - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 44 (6):835–849.
    Epistemic modals are a prominent topic in the literature on natural language semantics, with wide-ranging implications for issues in philosophy of language and philosophical logic. Considerations about the role that epistemic "might" and "must" play in discourse and reasoning have led to the development of several important alternatives to classical possible worlds semantics for natural language modal expressions. This is an opinionated overview of what I take to be some of the most exciting issues and developments in the field.
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  • Hedged Assertion.Matthew A. Benton & Peter Van Elswyk - forthcoming - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Surprisingly little has been written about hedged assertion. Linguists often focus on semantic or syntactic theorizing about, for example, grammatical evidentials or epistemic modals, but pay far less attention to what hedging does at the level of action. By contrast, philosophers have focused extensively on normative issues regarding what epistemic position is required for proper assertion, yet they have almost exclusively considered unqualified declaratives. This essay considers the linguistic and normative issues side-by-side. We aim to bring some order and clarity (...)
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  • Epistemic Modality, Eavesdroppers and the Objectivity Problem.Wylie Breckenridge - manuscript
    There is an account of modal operators that is both elegant and powerful and that deserves to be called the standard account. There are, however, some epistemic uses of modal operators which seem to be counterexamples to the account – they pose what I call the objectivity problem. It is often thought that the objectivity problem can be fixed by a certain kind of modification to the standard account. I argue that this kind of modification cannot work. Then I argue (...)
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  • Imagination and Convention: Distinguishing Grammar and Inference in Language. [REVIEW]Daniel W. Harris - 2017 - Philosophical Review 126 (4):554-558.
  • Lying and Certainty.Neri Marsili - 2018 - In Jörg Meibauer (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Lying. Oxford University Press. pp. 170-182.
    In the philosophical literature on the definition of lying, the analysis is generally restricted to cases of flat-out belief. This chapter considers the complex phenomenon of lies involving partial beliefs – beliefs ranging from mere uncertainty to absolute certainty. The first section analyses lies uttered while holding a graded belief in the falsity of the assertion, and presents a revised insincerity condition, requiring that the liar believes the assertion to be more likely to be false than true. The second section (...)
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  • Epistemic Modality De Re.Seth Yalcin - 2015 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2:475-527.
    Focusing on cases which involve binding into epistemic modals with definite descriptions and quantifiers, I raise some new problems for standard approaches to all of these expressions. The difficulties are resolved in a semantic framework that is dynamic in character. I close with a new class of problems about de re readings within the scope of modals.
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  • Might Do Better: Flexible Relativism and the QUD.Bob Beddor & Andy Egan - 2018 - Semantics and Pragmatics 11.
    The past decade has seen a protracted debate over the semantics of epistemic modals. According to contextualists, epistemic modals quantify over the possibilities compatible with some contextually determined group’s information. Relativists often object that contextualism fails to do justice to the way we assess utterances containing epistemic modals for truth or falsity. However, recent empirical work seems to cast doubt on the relativist’s claim, suggesting that ordinary speakers’ judgments about epistemic modals are more closely in line with contextualism than relativism (...)
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  • Must . . . Stay . . . Strong!Kai von Fintel & Anthony S. Gillies - 2010 - Natural Language Semantics 18 (4):351-383.
    It is a recurring mantra that epistemic must creates a statement that is weaker than the corresponding flat-footed assertion: It must be raining vs. It’s raining. Contrary to classic discussions of the phenomenon such as by Karttunen, Kratzer, and Veltman, we argue that instead of having a weak semantics, must presupposes the presence of an indirect inference or deduction rather than of a direct observation. This is independent of the strength of the claim being made. Epistemic must is therefore quite (...)
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  • Perspectival Plurality, Relativism, and Multiple Indexing.Dan Zeman - 2018 - In Rob Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern & Hannah Rohde (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21, Vol. 2. Semantics Archives. pp. 1353-1370.
    In this paper I focus on a recently discussed phenomenon illustrated by sentences containing predicates of taste: the phenomenon of " perspectival plurality " , whereby sentences containing two or more predicates of taste have readings according to which each predicate pertains to a different perspective. This phenomenon has been shown to be problematic for (at least certain versions of) relativism. My main aim is to further the discussion by showing that the phenomenon extends to other perspectival expressions than predicates (...)
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  • What We Know and What to Do.Nate Charlow - 2013 - Synthese 190 (12):2291-2323.
    This paper discusses an important puzzle about the semantics of indicative conditionals and deontic necessity modals (should, ought, etc.): the Miner Puzzle (Parfit, ms; Kolodny and MacFarlane, J Philos 107:115–143, 2010). Rejecting modus ponens for the indicative conditional, as others have proposed, seems to solve a version of the puzzle, but is actually orthogonal to the puzzle itself. In fact, I prove that the puzzle arises for a variety of sophisticated analyses of the truth-conditions of indicative conditionals. A comprehensive solution (...)
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  • Gradable Possibility and Epistemic Comparison.Elena Herburger & Aynat Rubinstein - 2019 - Journal of Semantics 36 (1):165-191.
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  • Relative Truth.Herman Cappelen & Torfinn Huvenes - forthcoming - In Michael Glanzberg (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Truth. Oxford University Press.
    An introduction to relativism about truth.
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  • Relativism 1: Representational Content.Max Kölbel - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (1):38-51.
    In the pair of articles of which this is the first, I shall present a set of problems and philosophical proposals that have in recent years been associated with the term “relativism”. All these problems and proposals concern the question of how we should represent thought and speech about certain topics. The main issue here is whether we should model such mental states or linguistic acts as involving representational contents that are absolutely correct or incorrect, or whether, alternatively, their correctness (...)
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  • Normativity in Language and Law.Alex Silk - forthcoming - In David Plunkett, Kevin Toh & Scott Shapiro (eds.), Dimensions of Normativity: New Essays on Metaethics and Jurisprudence. Oxford University Press.
    This chapter develops an account of the meaning and use of various types of legal claims, and uses this account to inform debates about the nature and normativity of law. The account draws on a general framework for implementing a contextualist theory, called 'Discourse Contextualism' (Silk 2016). The aim of Discourse Contextualism is to derive the apparent normativity of claims of law from a particular contextualist interpretation of a standard semantics for modals, along with general principles of interpretation and conversation. (...)
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  • Relative Truth, Speaker Commitment, and Control of Implicit Arguments.Peter Lasersohn - 2009 - Synthese 166 (2):359-374.
    Recent arguments for relativist semantic theories have centered on the phenomenon of “faultless disagreement.” This paper offers independent motivation for such theories, based on the interpretation of predicates of personal taste in certain attitude contexts and presuppositional constructions. It is argued that the correct interpretation falls out naturally from a relativist theory, but requires special stipulation in a theory which appeals instead to the use of hidden indexicals; and that a hidden indexical analysis presents problems for contemporary syntactic theory.
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  • Circumstantial and Temporal Dependence in Counterfactual Modals.Dorit Abusch - 2012 - Natural Language Semantics 20 (3):273-297.
    “Counterfactual” readings of might/could have were previously analyzed using metaphysical modal bases. This paper presents examples and scenarios where the assumptions of such a branching-time semantics are not met, because there are facts at the base world that preclude the complement of the modal becoming true. Additional arguments show that counterfactual readings are context dependent. These data motivate a semantics using a circumstantial (or factual) modal base, which refers to context-dependent facts about a world and time. The analysis is formulated (...)
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  • Agreement and Communication.Max Kölbel - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S1):101-120.
    I distinguish two notions of agreement in belief: believing the same content versus having beliefs that necessarily coincide/diverge in normative status. The second notion of agreement,, is clearly significant for the communication of beliefs amongst thinkers. Thus there would seem to be some prima facie advantage to choosing the conception of content operative in in such a way that the normative status of beliefs supervenes on their content, and this seems to be the prevailing assumption of many semanticists. I shall (...)
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  • On the Epistemic Costs of Implicit Bias.Tamar Gendler - 2011 - Philosophical Studies 156 (1):33-63.
  • The Pragmatics of Insensitive Assessments: Understanding The Relativity of Assessments of Judgments of Personal Taste, Epistemic Modals, and More.Gunnar Björnsson & Alexander Almér - 2010 - The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication 6 (1):1-45.
    In assessing the veridicality of utterances, we normally seem to assess the satisfaction of conditions that the speaker had been concerned to get right in making the utterance. However, the debate about assessor-relativism about epistemic modals, predicates of taste, gradable adjectives and conditionals has been largely driven by cases in which seemingly felicitous assessments of utterances are insensitive to aspects of the context of utterance that were highly relevant to the speaker’s choice of words. In this paper, we offer an (...)
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  • Embedded Taste Predicates.Julia Zakkou - 2019 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 62 (6):718-739.
    ABSTRACTWide-ranging semantic flexibility is often considered a magic cure for contextualism to account for all kinds of troubling data. In particular, it seems to offer a way to account for our intuitions regarding embedded perspectival sentences. As has been pointed out by Lasersohn [2009. “Relative Truth, Speaker Commitment, and Control of Implicit Arguments.” Synthese 166 : 359â374], however, the semantic flexibility does not present a remedy for all kinds of embeddings. In particular, it seems ineffective when it comes to embeddings (...)
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  • 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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  • Taking 'Might'‐Communication Seriously.Benjamin Lennertz - 2014 - Analytic Philosophy 55 (2):176-198.
    In this paper, I show that, given seemingly plausible assumptions about the epistemic ‘might’ and conditionals, we cannot explain why in some circumstances it is appropriate to utter conditional ‘might’-sentences, like “If Angelica has crumbs in her pocket, then she might be the thief” and not the corresponding simple ones, like “Angelica might be the thief.” So, one of our assumptions must be incorrect. I argue that the root of the problem is an umbrella thesis about the pragmatics of ‘might’-communication (...)
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  • Conditionals, Meaning, and Mood.William Starr - 2010 - Dissertation, Rutgers University
    This work explores the hypothesis that natural language is a tool for changing a language user's state of mind and, more specifically, the hypothesis that a sentence's meaning is constituted by its characteristic role in fulfilling this purpose. This view contrasts with the dominant approach to semantics due to Frege, Tarski and others' work on artificial languages: language is first and foremost a tool for representing the world. Adapted to natural language by Davidson, Lewis, Montague, et. al. this dominant approach (...)
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  • Abilities.John Maier - 2010 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    In the accounts we give of one another, claims about our abilities appear to be indispensable. Some abilities are so widespread that many who have them take them for granted, such as the ability to walk, or to write one's name, or to tell a hawk from a handsaw. Others are comparatively rare and notable, such as the ability to hit a Major League fastball, or to compose a symphony, or to tell an elm from a beech. In either case, (...)
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  • Epistemic Modals and Context: Experimental Data.Joshua Knobe & Seth Yalcin - 2014 - Semantics and Pragmatics 7 (10):1-21.
    Recently, a number of theorists (MacFarlane (2003, 2011), Egan et al. (2005), Egan (2007), Stephenson (2007a,b)) have argued that an adequate semantics and pragmatics for epistemic modals calls for some technical notion of relativist truth and/or relativist content. Much of this work has relied on an empirical thesis about speaker judgments, namely that competent speakers tend to judge a present-tense bare epistemic possibility claim true only if the prejacent is compatible with their information. Relativists have in particular appealed to judgments (...)
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  • Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung 9.Emar Maier, Corien Bary & Janneke Huitink (eds.) - 2005 - Nijmegen Centre for Semantics.
  • Class 5: Modality and Tense.Kai Fintel Sabine Iatridovonu - unknown
    Two ways to locate a modal claim in time • Time of Modality vs. Time of Prejacent • Condoravdi’s (2002) terminology: – temporal orientation – temporal perspective but which is which? 2 Time of modality..
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  • 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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  • The Creative Interpreter: Content Relativism and Assertion.Herman Cappelen - 2008 - Philosophical Perspectives 22 (1):23 - 46.
    Philosophers of language and linguists tend to think of the interpreter as an essentially non-creative participant in the communicative process. There’s no room, in traditional theories, for the view that correctness of interpretation depends in some essential way on the interpreter. As a result, there’s no room for the possibility that while P is the correct interpretation of an utterance, u, for one interpreter, P* is the correct interpretation of that utterance for another interpreter. Recently, a number of theorists have, (...)
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  • Subjunctive Credences and Semantic Humility.Sarah Moss - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (2):251-278.
    This paper argues that several leading theories of subjunctive conditionals are incompatible with ordinary intuitions about what credences we ought to have in subjunctive conditionals. In short, our theory of subjunctives should intuitively display semantic humility, i.e. our semantic theory should deliver the truth conditions of sentences without pronouncing on whether those conditions actually obtain. In addition to describing intuitions about subjunctive conditionals, I argue that we can derive these ordinary intuitions from justified premises, and I answer a possible worry (...)
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  • Contextualism About 'Might' and Says-That Ascriptions.David Braun - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (2):485-511.
    Contextualism about ‘might’ says that the property that ‘might’ expresses varies from context to context. I argue against contextualism. I focus on problems that contextualism apparently has with attitude ascriptions in which ‘might’ appears in an embedded ‘that’-clause. I argue that contextualists can deal rather easily with many of these problems, but I also argue that serious difficulties remain with collective and quantified says-that ascriptions. Herman Cappelen and John Hawthorne atempt to deal with these remaining problems, but I argue that (...)
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