Analytic Philosophy 55 (2):176-198 (2014)
AbstractIn this paper, I show that, given seemingly plausible assumptions about the epistemic ‘might’ and conditionals, we cannot explain why in some circumstances it is appropriate to utter conditional ‘might’-sentences, like “If Angelica has crumbs in her pocket, then she might be the thief” and not the corresponding simple ones, like “Angelica might be the thief.” So, one of our assumptions must be incorrect. I argue that the root of the problem is an umbrella thesis about the pragmatics of ‘might’-communication - one that says that the communicative impact of an utterance of a ‘might’-sentence is the performance of a consistency check on the information of the context. I conclude that we must reject this thesis. And I close the paper by sketching an alternative view about what assertive uses of ‘might’-sentences typically do - one which avoids the problem. Such uses typically present a possibility as a serious option in reasoning and deliberation.
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Citations of this work
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