Epistemic Modals in Context

In G. Preyer & G. Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 131-170 (2005)
Authors
A. M. Egan
University of Toronto
Abstract
A very simple contextualist treatment of a sentence containing an epistemic modal, e.g. a might be F, is that it is true iff for all the contextually salient community knows, a is F. It is widely agreed that the simple theory will not work in some cases, but the counterexamples produced so far seem amenable to a more complicated contextualist theory. We argue, however, that no contextualist theory can capture the evaluations speakers naturally make of sentences containing epistemic modals. If we want to respect these evaluations, our best option is a relativist theory of epistemic modals. On a relativist theory, an utterance of a might be F can be true relative to one context of evaluation and false relative to another. We argue that such a theory does better than any rival approach at capturing all the behaviour of epistemic modals.
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Making Sense of Relative Truth.John MacFarlane - 2005 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (3):321–339.
The Evidence for Relativism.Max Kölbel - 2009 - Synthese 166 (2):375-395.
Billboards, Bombs and Shotgun Weddings.Andy Egan - 2009 - Synthese 166 (2):251-279.

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