Metasemantics comprises new work on the philosophical foundations of linguistic semantics, by a diverse group of established and emerging experts in the philosophy of language, metaphysics, and the theory of content. The science of semantics aspires to systematically specify the meanings of linguistic expressions in context. The paradigmatic metasemantic question is accordingly: what more basic or fundamental features of the world metaphysically determine these semantic facts? Efforts to answer this question inevitably raise others, including: where are the boundaries of semantics?; (...) what is the essence of the meaning relation?; which framework should we use for semantic theorizing?; and what are the intrinsic natures of semantic values? Metasemantic inquiry has long been recognized as a central part of the philosophy of language, but recent developments in metaphysics and semantics itself now allow us to approach these classic questions with an unprecedented degree of precision. The essays collected here provide promising new perspectives on old problems, pose questions that suggest novel research projects, and taken together, greatly sharpen our understanding of linguistic representation. (shrink)
When epistemologists talk about knowledge, the discussions traditionally include only a small class of other epistemic notions: belief, justification, probability, truth. In this paper, we propose that epistemologists should include an additional epistemic notion into the mix, namely the notion of assuming or taking for granted.
John Hawthorne’s marvelous book contains a wealth of arguments and insights based on an impressive knowledge and understanding of contemporary discussion. We can address only a small aspect of the topic. In particular, we will offer our own answers to two questions about knowledge that he discusses.
Why can I not appropriately utter ‘It must be raining’ while standing outside in the rain, even though every world consistent with my knowledge is one in which it is raining? The common response to this problem is to hold that epistemic must, in addition to quantifying over epistemic possibilities, carries some additional evidential information concerning the source of one'S evidence. I argue that this is a mistake: epistemic modals are mere quantifiers over epistemic possibilities. My central claim is that (...) the seeming anomaly of the data above arises from a mistaken conception of what a possibility is. Instead of conceiving of possibilities as possible worlds, I argue that we should conceive of possibilities as answers to open questions. (shrink)
It is commonly held that the context with respect to which an indexical is interpreted is determined independently of the interpretation of the indexical. This view, which I call Context Realism, has explanatory significance: it is because the context is what it is that an indexical refers to what it does. In this paper, I provide an argument against Context Realism. I then develop an alternative that I call Context Constructivism, according to which indexicals are defined not in terms of (...) features of utterance situations, but rather in terms of roles that objects could play. (shrink)
I provide an objection to an argument targeting the claim that epistemic modality concerns what is possible or necessary given what is known. The argument centers around uses of epistemic modals that co-occur with adjuncts of the form 'according to X', those in which the content of some reported information is at issue. I argue that such contexts do not license us to reach the sort of conclusion that the argument aims to reach.