Two-dimensional semantics and the nesting problem

Analysis 74 (2):210-224 (2014)
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Abstract

Graeme Forbes (2011) raises some problems for two-dimensional semantic theories. The problems concern nested environments: linguistic environments where sentences are nested under both modal and epistemic operators. Closely related problems involving nested environments have been raised by Scott Soames (2005) and Josh Dever (2007). Soames goes so far as to say that nested environments pose the “chief technical problem” for strong two-dimensionalism. We call the problem of handling nested environments within two-dimensional semantics “the nesting problem”. We show that the two-dimensional semantics for attitude ascriptions developed in Chalmers (2011a) has no trouble accommodating certain forms of the nesting problem that involve factive verbs such as “know” or “establish”. A certain form of the nesting problem involving apriority and necessity operators does raise an interesting puzzle, but we show how a generalized version of the nesting problem arises independently of two-dimensional semantics—it arises, in fact, for anyone who accepts the contingent a priori. We, then, provide a two-dimensional treatment of the apriority operator that fits the two-dimensional treatment of attitude verbs and apply it to the generalized nesting problem. We conclude that two-dimensionalism is not seriously threatened by cases involving the nesting of epistemic and modal operators.

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Author Profiles

Brian Rabern
University of Edinburgh
David Chalmers
New York University

Citations of this work

Binding bound variables in epistemic contexts.Brian Rabern - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64 (5-6):533-563.
Counterfactuals, counteractuals, and free choice.Fabio Lampert & Pedro Merlussi - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (2):445-469.
Names Are Variables.Anders J. Schoubye - 2020 - Philosophical Review 129 (1):53-94.

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References found in this work

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
The Foundations of Two-Dimensional Semantics.David J. Chalmers - 2006 - In Manuel Garcia-Carpintero & Josep Macia (eds.), Two-Dimensional Semantics: Foundations and Applications. Oxford University Press. pp. 55-140.
The components of content.David Chalmers - 2002 - In David J. Chalmers (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. Oxford University Press.
Two notions of necessity.Martin Davies & Lloyd Humberstone - 1980 - Philosophical Studies 38 (1):1-31.

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