Recent work has argued that belief is weak: the level of rational credence required for belief is relatively low. That literature has contrasted belief with assertion, arguing that the latter requires an epistemic state much stronger than (weak) belief---perhaps knowledge or even certainty. We argue that this is wrong: assertion is just as weak as belief. We first present a variety of new arguments for this, and then show that the standard arguments for stronger norms are not convincing. Finally, we (...) sketch an alternative picture on which the fundamental norm of assertion is to say what you believe, but both belief and assertion are weak. To help make sense of this, we propose that both belief and assertion involve navigating a tradeoff between accuracy and informativity, and so it can makes sense to believe/say something you only have weak evidence for, if it is informative enough. (shrink)
What does 'might' mean? One hypothesis is that 'It might be raining' is essentially an avowal of ignorance like 'For all I know, it's raining'. But it turns out these two constructions embed in different ways, in particular as parts of larger constructions like Wittgenstein's 'It might be raining and it's not' and Moore's 'It's raining and I don't know it', respectively. A variety of approaches have been developed to account for those differences. All approaches agree that both Moore sentences (...) and Wittgenstein sentences are classically consistent. In this paper I argue against this consensus. I adduce a variety of new data which I argue can best be accounted for if we treat Wittgenstein sentences as being classically inconsistent. This creates a puzzle, since there is decisive reason to think that 'Might p' is classically consistent with 'Not p'. How can it also be that 'Might p and not p' and 'Not p and might p' are classically inconsistent? To make sense of this situation, I propose a new theory of epistemic modals and their interaction with embedding operators. This account makes sense of the subtle embedding behavior of epistemic modals, shedding new light on their meaning and, more broadly, the dynamics of information in natural language. -/- . (shrink)
The Identity principle says that conditionals with the form 'If p, then p' are logical truths. Identity is overwhelmingly plausible, and has rarely been explicitly challenged. But a wide range of conditionals nonetheless invalidate it. I explain the problem, and argue that the culprit is the principle known as Import-Export, which we must thus reject. I then explore how we can reject Import-Export in a way that still makes sense of the intuitions that support it, arguing that the differences between (...) indicative and subjunctive conditionals play a key role in solving this puzzle. (shrink)
This essay proposes a new theory of agentive modals: ability modals and their duals, compulsion modals. After criticizing existing approaches—the existential quantificational analysis, the universal quantificational analysis, and the conditional analysis—it presents a new account that builds on both the existential and conditional analyses. On this account, the act conditional analysis, a sentence like ‘John can swim across the river’ says that there is some practically available action that is such that if John tries to do it, he swims across (...) the river. The essay argues that the act conditional analysis avoids the problems faced by existing accounts of agentive modality and shows how the act conditional analysis can be extended to an account of generic agentive modal claims. The upshot is a new vantage point on the role of agentive modal ascriptions in practical discourse: ability ascriptions serve as a kind of hypothetical guarantee, and compulsion ascriptions as a kind of nonhypothetical guarantee. (shrink)
This paper is about guessing: how people respond to a question when they aren’t certain of the answer. Guesses show surprising and systematic patterns that the most obvious theories don’t explain. We argue that these patterns reveal that people aim to optimize a tradeoff between accuracy and informativity when forming their guess. After spelling out our theory, we use it to argue that guessing plays a central role in our cognitive lives. In particular, our account of guessing yields new theories (...) of belief, assertion, and the conjunction fallacy—the psychological finding that people sometimes rank a conjunction as more probable than one of its conjuncts. More generally, we suggest that guessing helps explain how boundedly rational agents like us navigate a complex, uncertain world. (shrink)
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 (...) show that there is no conditional operator that has all the properties native speaker intuitions suggest if has. Indicative conditionals have famously been the source of one such tension, ever since the triviality proofs of both Lewis (1976) and Gibbard (1981) established conclusions which are in prima facie tension with ordinary judgments about natural language indicative conditionals. In a recent series of papers, Branden Fitelson has strengthened both triviality results (Fitelson 2013, 2015, 2016), revealing a common culprit: a logical schema known as IMPORT-EXPORT. Fitelson’s results focus the tension between the logical results and ordinary judgments, since IMPORT-EXPORT seems to be supported by intuitions about natural language. In this paper, we argue that the intuitions which have been taken to support IMPORT-EXPORT are really evidence for a closely related, but subtly different, principle. We show that the two principles are independent by showing how, given a standard assumption about the conditional operator in the formal language in which IMPORT-EXPORT is stated, many existing theories of indicative conditionals validate one, but not the other. Moreover, we argue that once we clearly distinguish these principles, we can use propositional anaphora to show that IMPORT-EXPORT is in fact not valid for natural language indicative conditionals (given this assumption about the formal conditional operator). This gives us a principled and independently motivated way of rejecting a crucial premise in many triviality results, while still making sense of the speaker intuitions which appeared to motivate that premise. We suggest that this strategy has broad application and an important lesson: in theorizing about the logic of natural language, we must pay careful attention to the translation between the formal languages in which logical results are typically proved, and natural languages which are the subject matter of semantic theory. (shrink)
The meaning of definite descriptions (like ‘the King of France’, ‘the girl’, etc.) has been a central topic in philosophy and linguistics for the past century. Indefinites (‘Something is on the floor’, ‘A child sat down’, etc.) have been relatively neglected in philosophy, under the Russellian assumption that they can be unproblematically treated as existential quantifiers. However, an important tradition, drawing from Stoic logic, has pointed to patterns which suggest that indefinites cannot be treated simply as existential quantifiers. The standard (...) dynamic semantic treatment of those phenomena, however, has well-known problems with negation and disjunction. -/- In this paper I develop a new approach to (in)definites. On my theory, truth-conditions are classical. But in addition to truth-conditions, meanings comprise a second dimension of what I call bounds. It is at the level of bounds, not truth-conditions, that I locate the characteristically dynamic coordination between indefinites and definites. The resulting system thus has a classical logic. This approach avoids dynamic semantics’ logical problems, and, more generally, yields a new perspective on the relation between truth-conditional and dynamic effects in natural language. (shrink)
I discuss what I call practical Moore sentences: sentences like ‘You must close your door, but I don’t know whether you will’, which combine an order together with an avowal of agnosticism about whether the order will be obeyed. I show that practical Moore sentences are generally infelicitous. But this infelicity is surprising: it seems like there should be nothing wrong with giving someone an order while acknowledging that you do not know whether it will obeyed. I suggest that this (...) infelicity points to a striking psychological fact, with potentially broad ramifications concerning the structure of norms of speech acts: namely, when giving an order, we must act as if we believe we will be obeyed. (shrink)
I explore the logic of the conditional, using credence judgments to argue against Duality and in favor of Conditional Excluded Middle. I then explore how to give a theory of the conditional which validates the latter and not the former, developing a variant on Kratzer (1981)'s restrictor theory, as well as a proposal which combines Stalnaker (1968)'s theory of the conditional with the theory of epistemic modals I develop in Mandelkern 2019a. I argue that the latter approach fits naturally with (...) a conception of conditionals as referential devices which allow us to talk about particular worlds. (shrink)
There is a difference between the conditions in which one can felicitously use a ‘must’-claim like and those in which one can use the corresponding claim without the ‘must’, as in 'It must be raining out' versus 'It is raining out. It is difficult to pin down just what this difference amounts to. And it is difficult to account for this difference, since assertions of 'Must p' and assertions of p alone seem to have the same basic goal: namely, communicating (...) that p is true. In this paper I give a new account of the conversational role of ‘must’. I begin by arguing that a ‘must’-claim is felicitous only if there is a shared argument for the proposition it embeds. I then argue that this generalization, which I call Support, can explain the more familiar generalization that ‘must’-claims are felicitous only if the speaker’s evidence for them is in some sense indirect. Finally, I propose a pragmatic derivation of Support as a manner implicature. (shrink)
Import-Export says that a conditional 'If p, if q, r' is always equivalent to the conditional 'If p and q, r'. I argue that Import-Export does not sit well with a classical approach to conjunction: given some plausible and widely accepted principles about conditionals, Import-Export together with classical conjunction leads to absurd consequences. My main goal is to draw out these surprising connections. In concluding I argue that the right response is to reject Import-Export and adopt instead a limited version (...) which better fits natural language data; accounts for all the intuitions that motivate Import-Export in the first place; and fits better with a classical conjunction. (shrink)
I show that standard dynamic approaches to the semantics of epistemic modals invalidate the classical laws of excluded middle and non-contradiction, as well as the law of epistemic non-contradiction. I argue that these facts pose a serious challenge.
We argue that definite noun phrases give rise to uniqueness inferences characterized by a pattern we call definiteness projection. Definiteness projection says that the uniqueness inference of a definite projects out unless there is an indefinite antecedent in a position that filters presuppositions. We argue that definiteness projection poses a serious puzzle for e-type theories of (in)definites; on such theories, indefinites should filter existence presuppositions but not uniqueness presuppositions. We argue that definiteness projection also poses challenges for dynamic approaches, which (...) have trouble generating uniqueness inferences and predicting some filtering behavior, though unlike the challenge for e-type theories, these challenges have mostly been noted in the literature, albeit in a piecemeal way. Our central aim, however, is not to argue for or against a particular view, but rather to formulate and motivate a generalization about definiteness which any adequate theory must account for. (shrink)
Epistemic modals have peculiar logical features that are challenging to account for in a broadly classical framework. For instance, while a sentence of the form ‘p, but it might be that not p’ appears to be a contradiction, 'might not p' does not entail 'not p', which would follow in classical logic. Likewise, the classical laws of distributivity and disjunctive syllogism fail for epistemic modals. Existing attempts to account for these facts generally either under- or over-correct. Some theories predict that (...) 'p and might not p', a so-called epistemic contradiction, is a contradiction only in an etiolated sense, under a notion of entailment that does not allow substitution of logical equivalents; these theories underpredict the infelicity of embedded epistemic contradictions. Other theories savage classical logic, eliminating not just rules that intuitively fail, like distributivity and disjunctive syllogism, but also rules like non-contradiction, excluded middle, De Morgan’s laws, and disjunction introduction, which intuitively remain valid for epistemic modals. In this paper, we aim for a middle ground, developing a semantics and logic for epistemic modals that makes epistemic contradictions genuine contradictions and that invalidates distributivity and disjunctive syllogism but that otherwise preserves classical laws that intuitively remain valid. We start with an algebraic semantics, based on ortholattices instead of Boolean algebras, and then propose a more concrete possibility semantics, based on partial possibilities related by compatibility. Both semantics yield the same consequence relation, which we axiomatize. Then we show how to extend our semantics to explain parallel phenomena involving probabilities and conditionals. The goal throughout is to retain what is desirable about classical logic while accounting for the non-classicality of epistemic vocabulary. (shrink)
In this paper, we use antecedent-final conditionals to formulate two problems for parsing-based theories of presupposition projection and triviality of the kind given in Schlenker 2009. We show that, when it comes to antecedent-final conditionals, parsing-based theories predict filtering of presuppositions where there is in fact projection, and triviality judgments for sentences which are in fact felicitous. More concretely, these theories predict that presuppositions triggered in the antecedent of antecedent-final conditionals will be filtered (i.e. will not project) if the negation (...) of the consequent entails the presupposition. But this is wrong: John isn’t in Paris, if he regrets being in France intuitively presupposes that John is in France, contrary to this prediction. Likewise, parsing-based approaches to triviality predict that material entailed by the negation of the consequent will be redundant in the antecedent of the conditional; but John isn’t in Paris, if he’s in France and Mary is with him is intuitively felicitous, contrary to these predictions. Importantly, given that the trigger appears in sentence-final position, both incremental (left-to-right) and symmetric versions of such theories make the same predictions. These data constitute a challenge to the idea that presupposition projection and triviality should be computed on the basis of parsing. This issue is important because it relates to the more general question as to whether presupposition and triviality calculation should be thought of as a pragmatic post-compositional phenomenon or as part of compositional semantics (as in the more traditional dynamic approaches). We discuss a solution which allows us to maintain the parsing-based pragmatic approach; it is based on an analysis of conditionals which incorporates a presupposition that their antecedent is compatible with the context, together with a modification to Schlenker’s (2009) algorithm for calculating local contexts so that it takes into account presupposed material. As we will discuss, this solution works within a framework broadly similar to that of Schlenker’s (2009), but it doesn’t extend in an obvious way to other parsing-based accounts (e.g. parsing-based trivalent approaches). We conclude that a parsing-based theory can be maintained, but only if we adopt a substantial change of perspective on the framework. (shrink)
McGee argued that modus ponens was invalid for the natural language conditional ‘If…then…’. Many subsequent responses have argued that, while McGee’s examples show that modus ponens fails to preserve truth, they do not show that modus ponens fails to preserve rational full acceptance, and thus modus ponens may still be valid in the latter informational sense. I show that when we turn our attention from indicative conditionals to subjunctive conditionals, we find that modus ponens does not preserve either truth or (...) rational full acceptance, and thus is not valid in either sense. In concluding I briefly consider how we can account for these facts. (shrink)
A compelling, and popular, thought is that ability entails control: S’s being able to φ entails that φ be, in some sense, in S’s control. But this intuition is inconsistent with a different prima facie compelling thought: that S’s succeeding in φ-ing entails that S is able to φ. In this paper, I introduce a new form of evidence to help adjudicate between these two theses: namely, probability judgments about ability ascriptions. I argue that these judgments provide evidence in favor (...) of the intuition that success entails ability, and against the intuition that ability requires control. Moreover, I argue that these judgments support one particular analysis which vindicates the success intuition, namely, the analysis of ability in terms of conditionals. (shrink)
The Proviso Problem is the discrepancy between the predictions of nearly every major theory of semantic presupposition about what is semantically presupposed by conditionals, disjunctions, and conjunctions, versus observations about what speakers of certain sentences are felt to be presupposing. I argue that the Proviso Problem is a more serious problem than has been widely recognized. After briefly describing the problem and two standard responses to it, I give a number of examples which, I argue, show that those responses are (...) inadequate. I conclude by briefly exploring alternate approaches to presupposition that avoid this problem. -/- . (shrink)
Bradley offers a quick and convincing argument that no Boolean semantic theory for conditionals can validate a very natural principle concerning the relationship between credences and conditionals. We argue that Bradley’s principle, Preservation, is, in fact, invalid; its appeal arises from the validity of a nearby, but distinct, principle, which we call Local Preservation, and which Boolean semantic theories can non-trivially validate.
There is a difference between the conditions in which one can felicitously assert a ‘must’-claim versus those in which one can use the corresponding non-modal claim. But it is difficult to pin down just what this difference amounts to. And it is even harder to account for this difference, since assertions of 'Must ϕ' and assertions of ϕ alone seem to have the same basic goal: namely, coming to agreement that [[ϕ]] is true. In this paper I take on this (...) puzzle, known as Karttunen’s Problem. I begin by arguing that a ‘must’-claim is felicitous only if there is a shared argument for its prejacent. I then argue that this generalization, which I call Support, can explain the more familiar generalization that ‘must’-claims are felicitous only if the speaker’s evidence for them is in some sense indirect. Finally, I sketch a pragmatic derivation of Support. (shrink)
I propose a new theory of semantic presupposition, which I call dissatisfaction theory. I first briefly review a cluster of problems − known collectively as the proviso problem − for most extant theories of presupposition, arguing that the main pragmatic response to them faces a serious challenge. I avoid these problems by adopting two changes in perspective on presupposition. First, I propose a theory of projection according to which presuppositions project unless they are locally entailed. Second, I reject the standard (...) assumption that presuppositions are contents which must be entailed by the input context; instead, I propose that presuppositions are contents which are marked as backgrounded. I show that, together, these commitments allow us to avoid the proviso problem altogether, and generally make plausible predictions about presupposition projection out of connectives and attitude predicates. I close by sketching a two-dimensional implementation of my theory which allows us to make further welcome predictions about attitude predicates and quantifiers. (shrink)
The conjunction fallacy is the well-documented empirical finding that subjects sometimes rate a conjunction A&B as more probable than one of its conjuncts, A. Most explanations appeal in some way to the fact that B has a high probability. But Tentori et al. (2013) have recently challenged such approaches, reporting experiments which find that (1) when B is confirmed by relevant evidence despite having low probability, the fallacy is common, and (2) when B has a high probability but has not (...) been confirmed by relevant evidence, the fallacy is less common. They conclude that degree of confirmation, rather than probability, is the central determinant of the conjunction fallacy. In this paper, we address a confound in these experiments: Tentori et al. (2013) failed to control for the fact that their (1)-situations make B conversationally relevant, while their (2)-situations do not. Hence their results are consistent with the hypothesis that con- versationally relevant high probability is an important driver of the conjunction fallacy. Inspired by recent theoretical work that appeals to conversational relevance to explain the conjunction fallacy, we report on two experiments that control for this issue by making B relevant without changing its degree of probability or confirmation. We find that doing so increases the rate of the fallacy in (2)-situations, and leads to comparable fallacy-rates as (1)-situations. This suggests that (non-probabilistic) conversational relevance indeed plays a role in the conjunction fallacy, and paves the way toward further work on the interplay between relevance and confirmation. (shrink)
When embedding data are used to argue against semantic theory A and in favor of semantic theory B, it is important to ask whether A could make sense of those data. It is possible to ask that question on a case-by-case basis. But suppose we could show that A can make sense of all the embedding data which B can possibly make sense of. This would, on the one hand, undermine arguments in favor of B over A on the basis (...) of embedding data. And, provided that the converse does not hold—that is, that A can make sense of strictly more embedding data than B can—it would also show that there is a precise sense in which B is more constrained than A, yielding a pro tanto simplicity-based consideration in favor of B. In this paper I develop tools which allow us to make comparisons of this kind, which I call comparisons of potential expressive power. I motivate the development of these tools by way of exploration of the recent debate about epistemic modals. Prominent theories which have been developed in response to embedding data turn out to be strictly less expressive than the standard relational theory, a fact which necessitates a reorientation in how to think about the choice between these theories. (shrink)
A part of Stalnaker (1968)’s influential theory of conditionals has been neglected, namely the role for an accessibility relation between worlds. I argue that the accessibility relation does not play the role intended for it in the theory as stated, and propose a minimal revision which solves the problem, and brings the theory in line with the formulation in Stalnaker & Thomason 1970.
Eavesdropping judgments (judgments about truth, retraction, and consistency across contexts) about epistemic modals have been used in recent years to argue for a radical thesis: that truth is assessment-relative. We argue that judgments for 'I think that p' pattern in strikingly similar ways to judgments for 'Might p' and 'Probably p'. We argue for this by replicating three major experiments involving the latter and adding a condition with the form 'I think that p', showing that subjects respond in the same (...) way to 'thinks' as to modals. This poses a serious challenge to relativist treatments of the modal judgments, since a relativist treatment of the corresponding 'thinks' judgments is totally implausible, so if a unified account of the phenomena is to be found, it cannot be a relativist one. We briefly sketch how a unified account might look. (shrink)
Is the basic mechanism behind presupposition projection fundamentally asymmetric or symmetric? This is a basic question for the theory of presupposition, which also bears on broader issues concerning the source of asymmetries observed in natural language: are these simply rooted in superficial asymmetries of language use— language use unfolds in time, which we experience as fundamentally asymmetric— or can they be, at least in part, directly referenced in linguistic knowledge and representations? In this paper we aim to make progress on (...) these questions by exploring presupposition projection across conjunction, which has typically been taken as a central piece of evidence that presupposition projection is asymmetric. As a number of authors have recently pointed out, however, whether or not this conclusion is warranted is not clear once we take into account independent issues of redundancy. Building on previous work by Chemla & Schlenker (2012) and Schwarz (2015), we approach this question experimentally by using an inference task which controls for redundancy and presupposition suspension. We find strong evidence for left-to-right filtering across conjunctions, but no evidence for right-to-left filtering, suggesting that, at least as a default, presupposition projection across conjunction is indeed asymmetric. (shrink)
Two recent and influential papers, van Rooij 2007 and Lassiter 2012, propose solutions to the proviso problem that make central use of related notions of independence—qualitative in the first case, probabilistic in the second. We argue here that, if these solutions are to work, they must incorporate an implicit assumption about presupposition accommodation, namely that accommodation does not interfere with existing qualitative or probabilistic independencies. We show, however, that this assumption is implausible, as updating beliefs with conditional information does not (...) in general preserve independencies. We conclude that the approach taken by van Rooij and Lassiter does not succeed in resolving the proviso problem. (shrink)
Is the mechanism behind presupposition projection and filtering fundamentally asymmetric or symmetric? This is a foundational question for the theory of presupposition which has been at the centre of attention in recent literature. It also bears on broader issues concerning the source of asymmetries observed in natural language: are these simply rooted in superficial asymmetries of language use ; or are they, at least in part, directly encoded in linguistic knowledge and representations? In this paper we aim to make progress (...) on these questions by exploring presupposition projection across conjunction, which has traditionally been taken as a central piece of evidence that presupposition filtering is asymmetric in general. As a number of authors have recently pointed out, however, the evidence which has typically been used to support this conclusion is muddied by independent issues concerning redundancy; additional concerns have to do with the possibility of local accommodation. We report on a series of experiments, building on previous work by Chemla and Schlenker :177–226, 2012 and Schwarz 2015), using inference and acceptability tasks, which aim to control for both of these potential confounds. In our results, we find strong evidence for left-to-right filtering across conjunctions, but no evidence for right-to-left filtering—even when right-to-left filtering would, if available, rescue an otherwise unacceptable sentence. These results suggest that presupposition filtering across conjunction is asymmetric, contra suggestions in the recent literature :157–212, 2008a.), and pave the way for the investigation of further questions about the nature of this asymmetry and presupposition projection more generally. Our results also have broader implications for the study of presupposition: we find important differences in the verdicts of acceptability versus inference tasks in testing for projected content, which has both methodological ramifications for the question of how to distinguish presupposed content, and theoretical repercussions for understanding the nature of projection and presuppositions more generally. (shrink)
Is the mechanism behind presupposition projection and filtering fundamentally asymmetric or symmetric? This is a foundational question for the theory of presupposition which has been at the centre of attention in recent literature :287–316, 2008b. https://doi.org/10.1515/THLI.2008.021, Semant Pragmat 2:1–78, 2009. https://doi.org/10.3765/sp.2.3; Rothschild in Semant Pragmat 4:1–43, 2011/2015. https://doi.org/10.3765/sp.4.3 a.o.). It also bears on broader issues concerning the source of asymmetries observed in natural language: are these simply rooted in superficial asymmetries of language use ; or are they, at least in (...) part, directly encoded in linguistic knowledge and representations? In this paper we aim to make progress on these questions by exploring presupposition projection across conjunction, which has traditionally been taken as a central piece of evidence that presupposition filtering is asymmetric in general. As a number of authors have recently pointed out, however, the evidence which has typically been used to support this conclusion is muddied by independent issues concerning redundancy; additional concerns have to do with the possibility of local accommodation. We report on a series of experiments, building on previous work by Chemla and Schlenker :177–226, 2012. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11050-012-9080-7) and Schwarz Experimental perspectives on presuppositions, Springer, Cham, 2015), using inference and acceptability tasks, which aim to control for both of these potential confounds. In our results, we find strong evidence for left-to-right filtering across conjunctions, but no evidence for right-to-left filtering—even when right-to-left filtering would, if available, rescue an otherwise unacceptable sentence. These results suggest that presupposition filtering across conjunction is asymmetric, contra suggestions in the recent literature :157–212, 2008a. https://doi.org/10.1515/THLI.2008.013, 2009 a.o.), and pave the way for the investigation of further questions about the nature of this asymmetry and presupposition projection more generally. Our results also have broader implications for the study of presupposition: we find important differences in the verdicts of acceptability versus inference tasks in testing for projected content, which has both methodological ramifications for the question of how to distinguish presupposed content, and theoretical repercussions for understanding the nature of projection and presuppositions more generally. (shrink)
We propose a new analysis of ability modals. After briefly criticizing extant approaches, we turn our attention to the venerable but vexed conditional analysis of ability ascriptions. We give an account that builds on the conditional analysis, but avoids its weaknesses by incorporating a layer of quantification over a contextually supplied set of actions.
When do we judge that someone was forced to do what they did? One relatively well-established finding is that subjects tend to judge that agents were not forced to do actions when those actions violate norms. A surprising discovery of Young & Phillips 2011 is that this effect seems to disappear when we frame the relevant ‘force’-claim in the active rather than passive voice ('X forced Y to φ ' vs. 'Y was forced to φ by X'). Young and Phillips (...) found a similar contrast when the scenario itself shifts attention from Y (the forcee) to X (the forcer). We propose that these effects can be (at least partly) explained by way of the role of attention in the setting of quantifier domains which in turn play a role in the evaluation of ‘force’- claims. We argue for this hypothesis by way of an experiment which shows that sequences of active vs. passive ‘force’-claims display the characteristic “stickiness” of quantifier domain expansion, using a paradigm which we argue provides a useful general paradigm for testing quantifier domain hypotheses. Finally, we sketch a semantics for ‘force’ which we argue is suitable for capturing these effects. (shrink)
We give a theory of epistemic modals in the framework of possibility semantics and axiomatize the corresponding logic, arguing that it aptly characterizes the ways in which reasoning with epistemic modals does, and does not, diverge from classical modal logic.
Compare the following conditionals: 'If John is not in Paris, he is in France' versus 'If John is in France, he is not in Paris.' The second sounds entirely natural, whereas the first sounds quite strange. This contrast is puzzling, because these two conditionals have the same structure at a certain level of logical abstraction, namely 'If ¬p+, then p.' -/- We argue that existing theories of informational oddness do not distinguish between these conditionals. We do not have an account (...) of the divergence in judgments about the two, but we think this is a fascinating puzzle which we pose here in the hope others will be able to solve it. (shrink)