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Alexander W. Kocurek
Cornell University
  1. Against Conventional Wisdom.Alexander W. Kocurek, Ethan Jerzak & Rachel Etta Rudolph - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20 (22):1-27.
    Conventional wisdom has it that truth is always evaluated using our actual linguistic conventions, even when considering counterfactual scenarios in which different conventions are adopted. This principle has been invoked in a number of philosophical arguments, including Kripke’s defense of the necessity of identity and Lewy’s objection to modal conventionalism. But it is false. It fails in the presence of what Einheuser (2006) calls c-monsters, or convention-shifting expressions (on analogy with Kaplan’s monsters, or context-shifting expressions). We show that c-monsters naturally (...)
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  2. Counteridenticals.Alexander W. Kocurek - 2018 - The Philosophical Review 127 (3):323-369.
    A counteridentical is a counterfactual with an identity statement in the antecedent. While counteridenticals generally seem non-trivial, most semantic theories for counterfactuals, when combined with the necessity of identity and distinctness, attribute vacuous truth conditions to such counterfactuals. In light of this, one could try to save the orthodox theories either by appealing to pragmatics or by denying that the antecedents of alleged counteridenticals really contain identity claims. Or one could reject the orthodox theory of counterfactuals in favor of a (...)
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  3. Counterlogicals as Counterconventionals.Alexander W. Kocurek & Ethan J. Jerzak - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (4):673-704.
    We develop and defend a new approach to counterlogicals. Non-vacuous counterlogicals, we argue, fall within a broader class of counterfactuals known as counterconventionals. Existing semantics for counterconventionals, 459–482 ) and, 1–27 ) allow counterfactuals to shift the interpretation of predicates and relations. We extend these theories to counterlogicals by allowing counterfactuals to shift the interpretation of logical vocabulary. This yields an elegant semantics for counterlogicals that avoids problems with the usual impossible worlds semantics. We conclude by showing how this approach (...)
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  4. On the Substitution of Identicals in Counterfactual Reasoning.Alexander W. Kocurek - 2020 - Noûs 54 (3):600-631.
    It is widely held that counterfactuals, unlike attitude ascriptions, preserve the referential transparency of their constituents, i.e., that counterfactuals validate the substitution of identicals when their constituents do. The only putative counterexamples in the literature come from counterpossibles, i.e., counterfactuals with impossible antecedents. Advocates of counterpossibilism, i.e., the view that counterpossibles are not all vacuous, argue that counterpossibles can generate referential opacity. But in order to explain why most substitution inferences into counterfactuals seem valid, counterpossibilists also often maintain that counterfactuals (...)
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  5.  96
    Comparing Conventions.Rachel Etta Rudolph & Alexander W. Kocurek - 2020 - Semantics and Linguistic Theory 30:294-313.
    We offer a novel account of metalinguistic comparatives, such as 'Al is more wise than clever'. On our view, metalinguistic comparatives express comparative commitments to conventions. Thus, 'Al is more wise than clever' expresses that the speaker has a stronger commitment to a convention on which Al is wise than to a convention on which she is clever. This view avoids problems facing previous approaches to metalinguistic comparatives. It also fits within a broader framework—independently motivated by metalinguistic negotiations and convention-shiftingexpressions— (...)
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  6. On the Concept of a Notational Variant.Alexander W. Kocurek - 2017 - In Alexandru Baltag, Jeremy Seligman & Tomoyuki Yamada (eds.), Logic, Rationality, and Interaction (LORI 2017, Sapporo, Japan). pp. 284-298.
    In the study of modal and nonclassical logics, translations have frequently been employed as a way of measuring the inferential capabilities of a logic. It is sometimes claimed that two logics are “notational variants” if they are translationally equivalent. However, we will show that this cannot be quite right, since first-order logic and propositional logic are translationally equivalent. Others have claimed that for two logics to be notational variants, they must at least be compositionally intertranslatable. The definition of compositionality these (...)
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    A Two-Dimensional Logic for Two Paradoxes of Deontic Modality.Melissa Fusco & Alexander W. Kocurek - forthcoming - Review of Symbolic Logic:1-32.
    In this paper, we axiomatize the deontic logic in Fusco, which uses a Stalnaker-inspired account of diagonal acceptance and a two-dimensional account of disjunction to treat Ross’s Paradox and the Puzzle of Free Choice Permission. On this account, disjunction-involving validities are a priori rather than necessary. We show how to axiomatize two-dimensional disjunction so that the introduction/elimination rules for boolean disjunction can be viewed as one-dimensional projections of more general two-dimensional rules. These completeness results help make explicit the restrictions Fusco’s (...)
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  8. Counterpossibles.Alexander W. Kocurek - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass:e12787.
    A counterpossible is a counterfactual with an impossible antecedent. Counterpossibles present a puzzle for standard theories of counterfactuals, which predict that all counterpossibles are semantically vacuous. Moreover, counterpossibles play an important role in many debates within metaphysics and epistemology, including debates over grounding, causation, modality, mathematics, science, and even God. In this article, we will explore various positions on counterpossibles as well as their potential philosophical consequences.
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  9. Does Chance Undermine Would?Alexander W. Kocurek - forthcoming - Mind.
    Counterfactual skepticism holds that most ordinary counterfactuals are false. The main argument for this view appeals to a ‘chance undermines would’ principle: if ψ would have some chance of not obtaining had φ obtained, then φ []–> ψ is false. This principle seems to follow from two fairly weak principles, viz., that ‘chance ensures could’ and that φ []–> ψ and φ <>–> ψ clash. Despite their initial plausibility, I show that these principles are independently problematic: given some modest closure (...)
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  10. Hyperlogic: A System for Talking About Logics.Alexander W. Kocurek - 2019 - Proceedings for the 22nd Amsterdam Colloquium.
    Sentences about logic are often used to show that certain embedding expressions, including attitude verbs, conditionals, and epistemic modals, are hyperintensional. Yet it not clear how to regiment “logic talk” in the object language so that it can be compositionally embedded under such expressions. This paper does two things. First, it argues against a standard account of logic talk, viz., the impossible worlds semantics. It is shown that this semantics does not easily extend to a language with propositional quantifiers, which (...)
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    Logic Talk.Alexander W. Kocurek - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Sentences about logic are often used to show that certain embedding expressions (attitude verbs, conditionals, etc.) are hyperintensional. Yet it is not clear how to regiment “logic talk” in the object language so that it can be compositionally embedded under such expressions. In this paper, I develop a formal system called hyperlogic that is designed to do just that. I provide a hyperintensional semantics for hyperlogic that doesn’t appeal to logically impossible worlds, as traditionally understood, but instead uses a shiftable (...)
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  12.  98
    The Dynamics of Argumentative Discourse.Carlotta Pavese & Alexander W. Kocurek - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Logic.
    Arguments have always played a central role within logic and philosophy. But little attention has been paid to arguments as a distinctive kind of discourse, with its own semantics and pragmatics. The goal of this essay is to study the mechanisms by means of which we make arguments in discourse, starting from the semantics of argument connectives such as `therefore'. While some proposals have been made in the literature, they fail to account for the distinctive anaphoric behavior of `therefore', as (...)
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