An Invariant Content Theory for Epistemic Uses of Modal Terms

Topoi 36 (1):131-140 (2015)
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Abstract

I propose and defend an account on which the semantic content of propositions expressed by utterances making use of modals epistemically is constant; i.e., invariant. Although such proposals are typically considered non-starters, I aim to show that combining such a semantics with a performative account in which such utterances perform two speech acts is quite promising. I argue that a performative account, when combined with an invariant semantic content theory, does a good job of accounting for ordinary intuitions in some of the standard test cases discussed in the literature. I further show that the contextualist has a little noticed problem with how a single speaker is able to consider the same epistemic possibility proposition over time. An invariant position has no such problem, and I argue that this counts strongly in its favor.

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David Sackris
Arapahoe Community College

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References found in this work

How to do things with words.John Langshaw Austin - 1962 - Oxford [Eng.]: Clarendon Press. Edited by Marina Sbisá & J. O. Urmson.
Philosophical papers.John Langshaw Austin - 1962 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by J. O. Urmson & G. J. Warnock.
Relativism and Monadic Truth.Herman Cappelen & John Hawthorne - 2009 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK. Edited by John Hawthorne.

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