New Horizons for a Theory of Epistemic Modals

Authors
Jonathan Phillips
Harvard University
Justin Khoo
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract
Recent debate over the semantics and pragmatics of epistemic modals has focused on intuitions about cross-contextual truth-value assessments. In this paper, we advocate for a different approach to evaluating theories of epistemic modals. Our strategy focuses on judgments of the incompatibility of two different epistemic possibility claims, or two different truth value assessments of a single epistemic possibility claim. We subject the predictions of existing theories to empirical scrutiny, and argue that existing contextualist and relativist theories are unable to account for the full pattern of observed judgments. As a way of illustrating the theoretical upshot of these results, we conclude by developing a novel theory of epistemic modals that is able to predict the results.
Keywords epistemic modals  contextualism  relativism  truth
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DOI 10.1080/00048402.2018.1484499
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References found in this work BETA

Demonstratives.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Nonindexical Contextualism.John MacFarlane - 2009 - Synthese 166 (2):231-250.
Making Sense of Relative Truth.John MacFarlane - 2005 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 105 (3):321–339.
Epistemic Modals, Relativism and Assertion.Andy Egan - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 133 (1):1--22.

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