Analysis 80 (4):647-656 (2021)

Authors
Stephen Finlay
Australian Catholic University
Benjamin Lennertz
Colgate University
Abstract
We examine an objection to analysing the epistemic ‘might’ and ‘may’ as existential quantifiers over possibilities. Some claims that a proposition “might” be the case appear felicitous although, according to the quantifier analysis, they are necessarily false, since there are no possibilities in which the proposition is true. We explain such cases pragmatically, relying on the fact that ‘might’-sentences are standardly used to convey that the speaker takes a proposition as a serious option in reasoning. Our account explains why it makes sense to utter these sentences despite their being literally false and why their falsity is easily missed.
Keywords epistemic modals  quantifier analysis  implicature  possible worlds
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DOI 10.1093/analys/anaa022
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The Uses of Argument.Stephen E. Toulmin - 1958 - Philosophy 34 (130):244-245.

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