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Justin Khoo
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  1.  47
    New Horizons for a Theory of Epistemic Modals.Justin Khoo & Jonathan Phillips - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
    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 (...)
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  2.  27
    Disjunctive Antecedent Conditionals.Justin Khoo - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Disjunctive antecedent conditionals (DACs)—conditionals of the form if A or B, C—sometimes seem to entail both of their simplifications (if A, C; if B, C) and sometimes seem not to. I argue that this behavior reveals a genuine am- biguity in DACs. Along the way, I discuss a new observation about the role of focal stress in distinguishing the two interpretations of DACs. I propose a new theory, according to which the surface form of a DAC underdetermines its logical form: (...)
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  3.  60
    Quasi Indexicals.Justin Khoo - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    I argue that not all context dependent expressions are alike. Pure (or ordinary) indexicals behave more or less as Kaplan thought. But quasi indexicals behave in some ways like indexicals and in other ways not like indexicals. A quasi indexical sentence φ allows for cases in which one party utters φ and the other its negation, and neither party’s claim has to be false. In this sense, quasi indexicals are like pure indexicals (think: “I am a doctor”/“I am not a (...)
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  4.  42
    Triviality Results and the Relationship Between Logical and Natural Languages.Justin Khoo & Matthew Mandelkern - forthcoming - Mind:fzy006.
    Inquiry into the meaning of logical terms in natural language (‘and’, ‘or’, ‘not’, ‘if’) has generally proceeded along two dimensions. On the one hand, semantic theories aim to predict native speaker intuitions about the natural language sentences involving those logical terms. On the other hand, logical theories explore the formal properties of the translations of those terms into formal languages. Sometimes, these two lines of inquiry appear to be in tension: for instance, our best logical investigation into conditional connectives may (...)
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  5. Modal Disagreements.Justin Khoo - 2015 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 58 (5):511-534.
    It is often assumed that when one party felicitously rejects an assertion made by an- other party, the first party thinks that the proposition asserted by the second is false. This assumption underlies various disagreement arguments used to challenge contex- tualism about some class of expressions. As such, many contextualists have resisted these arguments on the grounds that the disagreements in question may not be over the proposition literally asserted. The result appears to be a dialectical stalemate, with no independent (...)
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  6. Probabilities of Conditionals in Context.Justin Khoo - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (1):1-43.
    The Ramseyan thesis that the probability of an indicative conditional is equal to the corresponding conditional probability of its consequent given its antecedent is both widely confirmed and subject to attested counterexamples (e.g., McGee 2000, Kaufmann 2004). This raises several puzzling questions. For instance, why are there interpretations of conditionals that violate this Ramseyan thesis in certain contexts, and why are they otherwise very rare? In this paper, I raise some challenges to Stefan Kaufmann's account of why the Ramseyan thesis (...)
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  7. Moral Disagreement and Moral Semantics.Justin Khoo & Joshua Knobe - 2016 - Noûs:109-143.
    When speakers utter conflicting moral sentences, it seems clear that they disagree. It has often been suggested that the fact that the speakers disagree gives us evidence for a claim about the semantics of the sentences they are uttering. Specifically, it has been suggested that the existence of the disagreement gives us reason to infer that there must be an incompatibility between the contents of these sentences. This inference then plays a key role in a now-standard argument against certain theories (...)
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  8.  30
    Moral Disagreement and Moral Semantics.Justin Khoo & Joshua Knobe - 2016 - Noûs:109-143.
    When speakers utter conflicting moral sentences, it seems clear that they disagree. It has often been suggested that the fact that the speakers disagree gives us evidence for a claim about the semantics of the sentences they are uttering. Specifically, it has been suggested that the existence of the disagreement gives us reason to infer that there must be an incompatibility between the contents of these sentences. This inference then plays a key role in a now-standard argument against certain theories (...)
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  9. On Indicative And Subjunctive Conditionals.Justin Khoo - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
    At the center of the literature on conditionals lies the division between indicative and subjunctive conditionals, and Ernest Adams’ famous minimal pair: If Oswald didn’t shoot Kennedy, someone else did. If Oswald hadn’t shot Kennedy, someone else would have. While a lot of attention is paid to figuring out what these different kinds of conditionals mean, significantly less attention has been paid to the question of why their grammatical differences give rise to their semantic differences. In this paper, I articulate (...)
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  10.  37
    A Note on Gibbard's Proof.Justin Khoo - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (S1):153-164.
    A proof by Allan Gibbard (Ifs: Conditionals, beliefs, decision, chance, time. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1981) seems to demonstrate that if indicative conditionals have truth conditions, they cannot be stronger than material implication. Angelika Kratzer's theory that conditionals do not denote two-place operators purports to escape this result [see Kratzer (Chic Linguist Soc 22(2):1–15, 1986, 2012)]. In this note, I raise some trouble for Kratzer’s proposed method of escape and then show that her semantics avoids this consequence of Gibbard’s proof by denying (...)
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  11. Conditionals, Indeterminacy, and Triviality.Justin Khoo - 2013 - Philosophical Perspectives 27 (1):260-287.
    This paper discusses and relates two puzzles for indicative conditionals: a puzzle about indeterminacy and a puzzle about triviality. Both puzzles arise because of Ramsey's Observation, which states that the probability of a conditional is equal to the conditional probability of its consequent given its antecedent. The puzzle of indeterminacy is the problem of reconciling this fact about conditionals with the fact that they seem to lack truth values at worlds where their antecedents are false. The puzzle of triviality is (...)
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  12.  33
    Operators or Restrictors? A Reply to Gillies.Justin Khoo - 2011 - Semantics and Pragmatics 4:1-25.
    According to operator theories, "if" denotes a two-place operator. According to restrictor theories, "if" doesn't contribute an operator of its own but instead merely restricts the domain of some co-occurring quantifier. The standard arguments (Lewis 1975, Kratzer 1986) for restrictor theories have it that operator theories (but not restrictor theories) struggle to predict the truth conditions of quantified conditionals like -/- (1) a. If John didn't work at home, he usually worked in his office. b. If John didn't work at (...)
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  13.  33
    Code Words in Political Discourse.Justin Khoo - 2017 - Philosophical Topics 45 (2):33-64.
    I argue that code words like “inner city” do not semantically encode hidden or implicit meanings, and offer an account of how they nonetheless manage to bring about the surprising effects discussed in Mendelberg 2001, White 2007, and Stanley 2015.
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  14. Backtracking Counterfactuals Revisited.Justin Khoo - 2017 - Mind 126 (503):841-910.
    I discuss three observations about backtracking counterfactuals not predicted by existing theories, and then motivate a theory of counterfactuals that does predict them. On my theory, counterfactuals quantify over a suitably restricted set of historical possibilities from some contextually relevant past time. I motivate each feature of the theory relevant to predicting our three observations about backtracking counterfactuals. The paper concludes with replies to three potential objections.
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  15.  44
    The Disagreement Challenge to Contextualism.Justin Khoo - forthcoming - In Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Epistemic Contextualism.
    I articulate the challenge disagreement poses for epistemic contextualism, and then discuss several possible replies on behalf of the contextualist.
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  16.  26
    Conditionals and Questions.Justin Khoo - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (1):51-55.
    I respond to Theodore Korzhukin's criticism of my paper, "Probabilities of conditionals in context".
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  17.  18
    Austere Realism: Contextual Semantics Meets Minimal Ontology, by Terence Horgan and Matjaž Potrč.Justin Khoo - 2015 - Mind 124 (496):1292-1299.
    Review of Horgan and Potrc (2008). I discuss both their linguistic and ontological theses.
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