Contextualism about Deontic Conditionals

In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford: pp. 117-142 (2016)

Authors
Aaron Bronfman
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Abstract
Our goal here is to help identify the contextualist’s most worthy competitor to relativism. Recently, some philosophers of language and linguists have argued that, while there are contextualist-friendly semantic theories of deontic modals that fit with the relativist’s challenge data, the best such theories are not Lewis-Kratzer-style semantic theories. If correct, this would be important: It would show that the theory that has for many years enjoyed the status of the default view of modals in English and other languages is in need of revision. Here we defend the default view by showing how a Kratzer-style semantics is able to make available readings of the relevant utterances that fit with the pretheoretical judgments opponents purport it cannot fully capture. Having established this, we turn to considering the more theoretical grounds proponents have offered for preferring their rival contextualist views. Here the question is to what extent such grounds favor semantic over what Korta and Perry call “near-side pragmatic” explanations of our judgments. In particular, we argue that our favored readings figure in near-side pragmatic explanations of those judgments that possess the methodological and theoretical advantages of systematicity and unity at least as well as, if not to a greater extent than, those of opponents who argue for their revised semantic theories on the basis of these advantages.
Keywords deontic modals  conditionals  semantics  Kratzer  modals  modal expressions  contextualism
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What We Know and What to Do.Nate Charlow - 2013 - Synthese 190 (12):2291-2323.

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