Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (6):623-664 (2018)

Alda Mari
Institut Jean Nicod
Epistemic modal verbs and adverbs of necessity are claimed to be positive polarity items. We study their behavior by examining modal spread, a phenomenon that appears redundant or even anomalous, since it involves two apparent modal operators being interpreted as a single modality. We propose an analysis in which the modal adverb is an argument of the MUST modal, providing a meta-evaluation \ which ranks the Ideal, stereotypical worlds in the modal base as better possibilities than the Non-Ideal worlds in it. MUST and possibility modals differ in that the latter have an empty \, a default that can be negotiated. Languages vary in the malleability of this parameter. Positive polarity is derived as a conflict between the ranking imposed by \—which requires that the Ideal worlds be better possibilities than Non-Ideal worlds—and the effect of higher negation which renders the Ideal set non-homogenous. Applying the ordering over such a non-homogeneous set would express preference towards both p and \ worlds thus rendering the sentence uninformative. Negative polarity MUST and possibility modals, on the other hand, contain an empty \, application of higher negation therefore poses no problem. This account is the first to connect modal spread to positive polarity of necessity modals, and captures the properties of both in a unified analysis.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10988-018-9235-1
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,417
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Epistemic Modals.Seth Yalcin - 2007 - Mind 116 (464):983-1026.

View all 30 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Modals Without Scales.Amy Rose Deal - 2011 - Language 87 (3):559-585.
Modal Concord: A Case Study of Dutch.J. Huitink - 2012 - Journal of Semantics 29 (3):403-437.
Future and Non-Future Modal Sentences.Tom Werner - 2006 - Natural Language Semantics 14 (3):235-255.
Modal Rationalism and Modal Monism.Anand Vaidya - 2008 - Erkenntnis 68 (2):191-212.
Modal Entailments.T. Werner - 2011 - Journal of Semantics 28 (4):451-484.
The Fortunes of Modal Realism. E. Andreanský - 2009 - Filozofia 64:535-544.
The Fortunes of Modal Realism.Eugen Andreansky - 2009 - Filozofia 64 (6):535-544.
A New Semantics for Positive Modal Logic.S. Celani & R. Jansana - 1997 - Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic 38 (1):1-18.


Added to PP index

Total views
24 ( #454,250 of 2,449,096 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #442,577 of 2,449,096 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes