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  1. Tense, mood, and centering.Maria Bittner -
    Natural languages exhibit a great variety of grammatical paradigms. For instance, in English verbs are grammatically marked for tense, whereas in the tenseless Eskimo-Aleut language Kalaallisut they are marked for illocutionary mood. Although time is a universal dimension of the human experience and speaking is part of that experience, some languages encode reference to time without any grammatical tense morphology, or reference to speech acts without any illocutionary mood morphology. Nevertheless, different grammatical systems are semantically parallel in certain respects. Specifically, (...)
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  2. Future Displacement and Modality.Fabrizio Cariani - manuscript
    In this survey article, I discuss the variety of ways in which language allows us to talk about the future. Topics discussed include how the category of predictive expressions broadly understood relates to the syntactic category of tense; what it means to say that a language does not have tense; how predictiveness relates to modality; and finally technical issue concerning the scope of negation in a semantics that is capable of shifting evaluation towards the future.
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  3. The Modal Future Hypothesis Debugged.Fabrizio Cariani - manuscript
    This note identifies and corrects some problems in developments of the thesis that predictive expressions, such as English "will", are modals. I contribute a new argument supporting Cariani and Santorio's recent claim that predictive expressions are non-quantificational modals. At the same time, I improve on their selectional semantics by fixing an important bug. Finally, I show that there are benefits to be reaped by integrating the selection semantics framework with standard ideas about the future orientation of modals.
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  4. Confidence Reports.Fabrizio Cariani, Paolo Santorio & Alexis Wellwood - manuscript
    We advocate and develop a states-based semantics for both nominal and adjectival confidence reports, as in "Ann is confident/has confidence that it's raining", and their comparatives "Ann is more confident/has more confidence that it's raining than that it's snowing". Other examples of adjectives that can report confidence include "sure" and "certain". Our account adapts Wellwood's account of adjectival comparatives in which the adjectives denote properties of states, and measure functions are introduced compositionally. We further explore the prospects of applying these (...)
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  5. Semantics & pragmatics.Adrian Brasoveanu - manuscript
    donkey anaphora, quantificational and modal subordination, static and dynamic approaches to mood, tense and aspect, entailment in natural language, parallels between the individual, temporal and modal domain.
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  6. A puzzle about scope for restricted deontic modals.Brian Rabern & Patrick Todd - forthcoming - Snippets.
    Deontic necessity modals (e.g. 'have to', 'ought to', 'must', 'need to', 'should', etc.) seem to vary in how they interact with negation. According to some accounts, what forces modals like 'ought' and 'should' to outscope negation is their polarity sensitivity -- modals that scope over negation do so because they are positive polarity items. But there is a conflict between this account and a widely assumed theory of if-clauses, namely the restrictor analysis. In particular, the conflict arises for constructions containing (...)
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  7. Future-Past Asymmetries, Evidential Grounding, and Projection.Fabrizio Cariani - 2022 - Proceedings of the 23rd Amsterdam Colloquium (2022).
    This is the Amsterdam Colloquium version of a paper in which I develop a lexical solution to some important puzzles recently discovered by Dilip Ninan, which highlight striking asymmetries between future- and past-directed talk. A central component of the solution is the idea that lexical meanings of predicates ought to include features that determine the type of evidence that is admissible for standard predications.
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  8. Weak and Strong Necessity Modals: On Linguistic Means of Expressing "A Primitive Concept OUGHT".Alex Silk - 2022 - In Billy Dunaway & David Plunkett (eds.), Meaning, Decision, and Norms: Themes from the Work of Allan Gibbard. pp. 203-245.
    This paper develops an account of the meaning of `ought', and the distinction between weak necessity modals (`ought', `should') and strong necessity modals (`must', `have to'). I argue that there is nothing specially ``strong'' about strong necessity modals per se: uses of `Must p' predicate the (deontic/epistemic/etc.) necessity of the prejacent p of the actual world (evaluation world). The apparent ``weakness'' of weak necessity modals derives from their bracketing whether the necessity of the prejacent is verified in the actual world. (...)
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  9. The Modal Future: A Theory of Future-Directed Thought and Talk.Fabrizio Cariani - 2021 - Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    Provisional draft, pre-production copy of my book “The Modal Future” (forthcoming with Cambridge University Press).
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  10. Counterfactuals and modality.Gabriel Greenberg - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (6):1255-1280.
    This essay calls attention to a set of linguistic interactions between counterfactual conditionals, on one hand, and possibility modals like could have and might have, on the other. These data present a challenge to the popular variably strict semantics for counterfactual conditionals. Instead, they support a version of the strict conditional semantics in which counterfactuals and possibility modals share a unified quantificational domain. I’ll argue that pragmatic explanations of this evidence are not available to the variable analysis. And putative counterexamples (...)
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  11. Does Chance Undermine Would?Alexander W. Kocurek - 2021 - Mind 131 (523):747-785.
    Counterfactual scepticism 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, namely, 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 (...)
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  12. Context and Coherence: The Logic and Grammar of Prominence.Una Stojnic - 2021 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    Natural languages are riddled with context-sensitivity. One and the same string of words can express many different meanings on occasion of use, and yet we understand one another effortlessly, on the fly. How do we do so? What fixes the meaning of context-sensitive expressions, and how are we able to recover the meaning so effortlessly? -/- This book offers a novel response: we can do so because we draw on a broad array of subtle linguistic conventions that determine the interpretation (...)
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  13. Assertion and Modality.Fabrizio Cariani - 2020 - In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 505-528.
    This essay is an opinionated exploration of the constraints that modal discourse imposes on the theory of assertion. Primary focus is on the question whether modal discourse challenges the traditional view that all assertions have propositional content. This question is tackled largely with reference to discourse involving epistemic modals, although connections with other flavors of modality are noted along the way.
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  14. Now, Imagine an Actually Existing Unicorn: On Russellian Worries for Modal Meinongianism.Andreas de Jong - 2020 - Axiomathes 31 (3):365-380.
    Modal Meinongianism provides the semantics of sentences involving intentional verbs Priest. To that end, Modal Meinongianism employs a pointed non-normal quantified modal logic model. Like earlier Meinongian views Modal Meinongianism has a characterisation principle, that claims that any condition whatsoever is satisfied by some object in some world. Recently, Everett has proposed an argument against QCP that, if successful, gives rise to problems identical to those Russell raised for Naïve Meinongianism, namely that it allows for true contradictions, and allows us (...)
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  15. Free Choice Impossibility Results.Simon Goldstein - 2020 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 49 (2):249-282.
    Free Choice is the principle that possibly p or q implies and is implied by possibly p and possibly q. A variety of recent attempts to validate Free Choice rely on a nonclassical semantics for disjunction, where the meaning of p or q is not a set of possible worlds. This paper begins with a battery of impossibility results, showing that some kind of nonclassical semantics for disjunction is required in order to validate Free Choice. The paper then provides a (...)
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  16. Variable Objects and Truthmaking.Friederike Moltmann - 2020 - In Mircea Dumitru (ed.), Metaphysics, Meaning, and Modality. Themes from Kit Fine. Oxford University Press.
    This paper will focus on a philosophically significant construction whose semantics brings together two important notions in Kit Fine’s philosophy, the notion of truthmaking and the notion of a variable embodiment, or its extension, namely what I call a ‘variable object’. This is the construction of definite NPs like 'the number of people that can fit into the bus', 'the book John needs to write', and 'the gifted mathematician John claims to be'. Such NPs are analysed as standing for variable (...)
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  17. Ability and Possibility.Wolfgang Schwarz - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20.
    According to the classical quantificational analysis of modals, an agent has the ability to perform an act iff relevant facts about the agent and her environment are compatible with her performing the act. The analysis faces a number of problems, many of which can be traced to the fact that it takes even accidental performance of an act as proof of the relevant ability. I argue that ability statements are systematically ambiguous: on one reading, accidental performance really is enough; on (...)
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  18. Future Orientation on an Event-Relative Semantics for Modals.Daniel Skibra - 2020 - In Maggie Baird (ed.), NELS 49: Proceedings of the Forty-Ninth Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society: Volume 3. Amherst, MA: GLSA, Dept. of Linguistics. pp. 149-162.
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  19. Some Constraints on Contextualism About Modals.Daniel Skibra - 2020 - In The Architecture of Context and Context-Sensitivity. pp. 295-315.
    The following paradigm, most closely associated with the work of Angelika Kratzer, dominates the literature on the semantics of modals: MUST is a universal quantifier over a contextually determined set of worlds, where ⌜MUST.
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  20. Content in a Dynamic Context.Una Stojnić - 2019 - Noûs 53 (2):394-432.
    The standing tradition in theorizing about meaning, since at least Frege, identifies meaning with propositions, which are, or determine, the truth-conditions of a sentence in a context. But a recent trend has advocated a departure from this tradition: in particular, it has been argued that modal claims do not express standard propositional contents. This non-propositionalism has received different implementations in expressivist semantics and certain kinds of dynamic semantics. They maintain that the key aspect of interpretation of modal claims is the (...)
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  21. Диференційні параметри експресем та регулятем у художньому тексті.Svitlana Halaur - 2018 - Language: Classic – Modern – Postmodern 4:20-32.
    У статті з’ясовано проблему контекстної логіко-інтелектуальної експресивності та входження її до сфери категорії регулятивності. Із цією метою експресивність проаналізовано у двох її виявах – інгерентному та адгерентному. Доведено, що адгерентні експресивні засоби – стилістичні прийоми – беруть активну участь у регулюванні читацької діяльності. Продемонстровано інклюзивні відношення між експресемами та регулятемами, окреслено ядерно-периферійний ресурс регулятивних засобів.
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  22. Axiomatization in the meaning sciences.Wesley H. Holliday & Thomas Icard - 2018 - In Derek Ball & Brian Rabern (eds.), The Science of Meaning: Essays on the Metatheory of Natural Language Semantics. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. pp. 73-97.
    While much of semantic theorizing is based on intuitions about logical phenomena associated with linguistic constructions—phenomena such as consistency and entailment—it is rare to see axiomatic treatments of linguistic fragments. Given a fragment interpreted in some class of formally specified models, it is often possible to ask for a characterization of the reasoning patterns validated by the class of models. Axiomatizations provide such a characterization, often in a perspicuous and efficient manner. In this paper, we highlight some of the benefits (...)
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  23. Choice Points for a Modal Theory of Disjunction.Fabrizio Cariani - 2017 - Topoi 36 (1):171-181.
    This paper investigates the prospects for a semantic theory that treats disjunction as a modal operator. Potential motivation for such a theory comes from the way in which modals embed within disjunctions. After reviewing some of the relevant data, I go on to distinguish a variety of modal theories of disjunction. I analyze these theories by considering pairs of conflicting desiderata, highlighting some of the tradeoffs they must face.
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  24. Dispositions without Teleology.David Manley & Ryan Wasserman - 2017 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 10.
    We argue against accounting for dispositions (and of the progressive aspect) in terms of a fundamentally teleological metaphysics, and we defend our previous conditional account from some novel objections. -/- In “Teleological Dispositions,” Nick Kroll offers a novel theory of dispositions in terms of primitive directed states. Kroll is clear that his notion of directedness “outstrips talk of goals, purposes, design, and function”, and that it commits him to “primitive teleological facts”. This notion may strike some as outdated and unscientific, (...)
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  25. One's Modus Ponens: Modality, Coherence and Logic.Una Stojnić - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 95 (1):167-214.
    Recently, there has been a shift away from traditional truth-conditional accounts of meaning towards non-truth-conditional ones, e.g., expressivism, relativism and certain forms of dynamic semantics. Fueling this trend is some puzzling behavior of modal discourse. One particularly surprising manifestation of such behavior is the alleged failure of some of the most entrenched classical rules of inference; viz., modus ponens and modus tollens. These revisionary, non-truth-conditional accounts tout these failures, and the alleged tension between the behavior of modal vocabulary and classical (...)
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  26. Contextualism about Deontic Conditionals.Aaron Bronfman & Janice Dowell, J. L. - 2016 - In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford: pp. 117-142.
    Our goal here is to help identify the contextualist’s most worthy competitor to relativism. Recently, some philosophers of language and linguists have argued that, while there are contextualist-friendly semantic theories of deontic modals that fit with the relativist’s challenge data, the best such theories are not Lewis-Kratzer-style semantic theories. If correct, this would be important: It would show that the theory that has for many years enjoyed the status of the default view of modals in English and other languages is (...)
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  27. Motivating the Causal Modeling Semantics of Counterfactuals, or, Why We Should Favor the Causal Modeling Semantics over the Possible-Worlds Semantics.Kok Yong Lee - 2016 - In Syraya Chin-Mu Yang, Duen-Min Deng & Hanti Lin (eds.), Structural Analysis of Non-Classical Logics The Proceedings of the Second Taiwan Philosophical Logic Colloquium. Springer. pp. 83-110.
    Philosophers have long analyzed the truth-condition of counterfactual conditionals in terms of the possible-worlds semantics advanced by Lewis [13] and Stalnaker [23]. In this paper, I argue that, from the perspective of philosophical semantics, the causal modeling semantics proposed by Pearl [17] and others (e.g., Briggs [3]) is more plausible than the Lewis-Stalnaker possible-worlds semantics. I offer two reasons. First, the possible-worlds semantics has suffered from a specific type of counterexamples. While the causal modeling semantics can handle such examples with (...)
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  28. On What Actually Is.Fredrik Haraldsen - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (3):643-656.
    The actually-operator, understood as a rigidifier, has been employed for a range of purposes in natural language semantics. In this article I argue that the properties of the operator do not correspond to any feature of natural language or feature natural language users have access to. Nor is it needed to provide a formal representation of natural language sentences—the examples usually provided to illustrate the indispensability of the operator are much more plausibly interpreted using plural quantifiers. This lack of connection (...)
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  29. Temporality: Universals and Variation.Maria Bittner - 2014 - Wiley-Blackwell.
    This book surveys the ways in which languages of different types refer to past, present, and future events and how these referents are related to the knowledge and attitudes of discourse participants. The book is the culmination of fifteen years of research by the author. Four major language types are examined in-depth: tense-based English, tense-aspect-based Polish, aspect-based Chinese, and mood-based Kalaallisut. Each contributes to a series of logical representation languages, which together define a common logical language that is argued to (...)
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  30. Dispositions without Conditionals.Barbara Vetter - 2014 - Mind 123 (489):129-156.
    Dispositions are modal properties. The standard conception of dispositions holds that each disposition is individuated by its stimulus condition(s) and its manifestation(s), and that their modality is best captured by some conditional construction that relates stimulus to manifestation as antecedent to consequent. I propose an alternative conception of dispositions: each disposition is individuated by its manifestation alone, and its modality is closest to that of possibility — a fragile vase, for instance, is one that can break easily. The view is (...)
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  31. Expressive power, mood, and actuality.Rohan French - 2013 - Synthese 190 (9):1689-1699.
    In Wehmeier (J Philos Log 33:607–630, 2004) we are presented with the subjunctive modal language, a way of dealing with the expressive inadequacy of modal logic by marking atomic predicates as being either in the subjunctive or indicative mood. Wehmeier claims that this language is expressively equivalent to the standard actuality language, and that despite this the marked-unmarked dichotomies are not the same in the two languages. In this paper we will attend to Wehmeier’s argument that this is the case, (...)
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  32. Measure Semantics and Qualitative Semantics for Epistemic Modals.Wesley H. Holliday & Thomas F. Icard - 2013 - Proceedings of SALT 23:514-534.
    In this paper, we explore semantics for comparative epistemic modals that avoid the entailment problems shown to result from Kratzer’s (1991) semantics by Yalcin (2006, 2009, 2010). In contrast to the alternative semantics presented by Yalcin and Lassiter (2010, 2011), based on finitely additive probability measures, we introduce semantics based on qualitatively additive measures, as well as semantics based on purely qualitative orderings, including orderings on propositions derived from orderings on worlds in the tradition of Kratzer (1991). All of these (...)
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  33. Modals with a Taste of the Deontic.Zoltán Gendler Szabó & Joshua Knobe - 2013 - Semantics and Pragmatics 6 (1):1-42.
    The aim of this paper is to present an explanation for the impact of normative considerations on people’s assessment of certain seemingly purely descriptive matters. The explanation is based on two main claims. First, a large category of expressions are tacitly modal: they are contextually equivalent to modal proxies. Second, the interpretation of predominantly circumstantial or teleological modals is subject to certain constraints which make certain possibilities salient at the expense of others.
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  34. 'Can' without Possible Worlds: Semantics for Anti-Humeans.Barbara Vetter - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13.
    Metaphysicians of modality are increasingly critical of possible-worlds talk, and increasingly happy to accept irreducibly modal properties – and in particular, irreducible dispositions – in nature. The aim of this paper is to provide the beginnings of a modal semantics which uses, instead of possible-worlds talk, the resources of such an 'anti-Humean' metaphysics. One central challenge to an anti-Humean view is the context-sensitivity of modal language. I show how that challenge can be met and a systematic modal semantics provided, given (...)
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  35. Contextualist Solutions to Three Puzzles about Practical Conditionals.Janice Dowell, J. L. - 2012 - In Russ Shafer-Landau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Metaethics, volume 7. Oxford University Press.
  36. Propositions, semantic values, and rigidity.Dilip Ninan - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (3):401-413.
    Jeffrey King has recently argued: (i) that the semantic value of a sentence at a context is (or determines) a function from possible worlds to truth values, and (ii) that this undermines Jason Stanley's argument against the rigidity thesis, the claim that no rigid term has the same content as a non-rigid term. I show that King's main argument for (i) fails, and that Stanley's argument is consistent with the claim that the semantic value of a sentence at a context (...)
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  37. Rigidification and attitudes.Bryan Pickel - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 158 (1):43-58.
    Scott Soames has argued that Rigidified Descriptivism wrongly predicts that one cannot believe, say, that Joe Strummer was born in 1952 without having a belief about the actual world. Soames suggests that agents in other possible worlds may have this belief, but may lack any beliefs about the actual world, a world that they do not occupy and have no contact with. I respond that this argument extends to other popular actuality-involving analyses. In order for Soames to hold on to (...)
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  38. Modals without scales.Amy Rose Deal - 2011 - Language 87 (3):559-585.
    Some natural languages do not lexically distinguish between modals of possibility and modals of necessity. From the perspective of languages like English, modals in such languages appear to do double duty: they are used both where possibility modals are expected and where necessity modals are expected. The Nez Perce modal suffix o’qa offers an example of this behavior. I offer a simple account of the flexibility of the o’qa modal centered on the absence of scalar implicatures. O’qa is a possibility (...)
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  39. Deterministic Chance.Antony Eagle - 2011 - Noûs 45 (2):269 - 299.
    I sketch a new constraint on chance, which connects chance ascriptions closely with ascriptions of ability, and more specifically with 'CAN'-claims. This connection between chance and ability has some claim to be a platitude; moreover, it exposes the debate over deterministic chance to the extensive literature on (in)compatibilism about free will. The upshot is that a prima facie case for the tenability of deterministic chance can be made. But the main thrust of the paper is to draw attention to the (...)
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  40. Ruzsa on Quine’s Argument Against Modal Logic.Zsófia Zvolenszky - 2010 - Hungarian Philosophical Review (Magyar Filozófiai Szemle) (4):40-48.
  41. On the interaction of aspect and modal auxiliaries.Valentine Hacquard - 2009 - Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (3):279-315.
    This paper discusses the interaction of aspect and modality, and focuses on the puzzling implicative effect that arises when perfective aspect appears on certain modals: perfective somehow seems to force the proposition expressed by the complement of the modal to hold in the actual world, and not merely in some possible world. I show that this puzzling behavior, originally discussed in Bhatt (1999, Covert modality in non-finite contexts) for the ability modal, extends to all modal auxiliaries with a circumstantial modal (...)
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  42. On linking dispositions and conditionals.David Manley & Ryan Wasserman - 2008 - Mind 117 (465):59-84.
    Analyses of dispositional ascriptions in terms of conditional statements famously confront the problems of finks and masks. We argue that conditional analyses of dispositions, even those tailored to avoid finks and masks, face five further problems. These are the problems of: (i) Achilles' heels, (ii) accidental closeness, (iii) comparatives, (iv) explaining context sensitivity, and (v) absent stimulus conditions. We conclude by offering a proposal that avoids all seven of these problems.
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  43. Common ground and modal disagreement.David Hunter - 2007 - In H. V. Hanson (ed.), Dissensus and the Search for Common Ground. pp. 134-143.
    The common ground in an inquiry consists of what the participants agree on, at least for the sake of the inquiry. The relations between the factual and linguistic components of common ground are notoriously difficult to trace. I clarify them by exploring how modal disagreements – disagreements about how things might be – interact with the linguistic and the factual common ground. I argue that modal agreement is essential to common ground of any kind.
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  44. Does Possible World Semantics Turn all Propositions into Necessary ones?John-Michael Kuczynski - 2007 - Journal of Pragmatics 39 (5):972-916.
    "Jim would still be alive if he hadn't jumped" means that Jim's death was a consequence of his jumping. "x wouldn't be a triangle if it didn't have three sides" means that x's having a three sides is a consequence its being a triangle. Lewis takes the first sentence to mean that Jim is still alive in some alternative universe where he didn't jump, and he takes the second to mean that x is a non-triangle in every alternative universe where (...)
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  45. Actually.Scott Soames - 2007 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 81 (1):251-277.
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  46. Ontological symmetry in language: A brief manifesto.Philippe Schlenker - 2006 - Mind and Language 21 (4):504–539.
    In the tradition of quantified modal logic, it was assumed that significantly different linguistic systems underlie reference to individuals, to times and to 'possible worlds'. Various results from recent research in formal semantics suggest that this is not so, and that there is in fact a pervasive symmetry between the linguistic means with which we refer to these three domains. Reference to individuals, times and worlds is uniformly effected through generalized quantifiers, definite descriptions, and pronouns, and in each domain grammatical (...)
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  47. A Pragmatic Solution for the Paradox of Free Choice Permission.Katrin Schulz - 2005 - Synthese 147 (2):343-377.
    In this paper, a pragmatic approach to the phenomenon of free choice permission is proposed. Free choice permission is explained as due to taking the speaker (i) to obey certain Gricean maxims of conversation and (ii) to be competent on the deontic options, i.e. to know the valid obligations and permissions. The approach differs from other pragmatic approaches to free choice permission in giving a formally precise description of the class of inferences that can be derived based on these two (...)
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  48. Dividing things up: The semantics of or and the modal/or interaction.Mandy Simons - 2005 - Natural Language Semantics 13 (3):271-316.
    In this paper, the meanings of sentences containing the word or and a modal verb are used to arrive at a novel account of the meaning of or coordinations. It is proposed that or coordinations denote sets whose members are the denotations of the disjuncts; and that the truth conditions of sentences containing or coordinations require the existence of some set made available by the semantic environment which can be ‘divided up’ in accordance with the disjuncts. The relevant notion of (...)
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  49. Modality, mood, and descriptions.Kai F. Wehmeier - 2005 - In Reinhard Kahle (ed.), Intensionality: An Interdisciplinary Discussion. AK Peters.
    §1. Introduction. By means of what semantic features is a proper name tied to its bearer? This is a puzzling question indeed: proper names — like “Aristotle” or “Paris” — are syntactically simple, and it therefore does not seem possible to reduce their meanings, by means of a principle of compositionality, to the meanings of more basic, and hence perhaps more tractable, linguistic elements.
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  50. The Semantics and Pragmatics of the Perfect.Paul Portner - 2003 - Linguistics and Philosophy 26 (4):459-510.
    The English perfect involves two fundamental components of meaning: a truth-conditional one involving temporal notions and a current relevance presupposition best expressed in terms drawn from the analysis of modality. The proposal made here draws much for the Extended Now theory, but improves on it by showing that many aspects of the perfect's meaning may be factored out into independent semantic or pragmatic principles.
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