Modal Knowledge For Expressivists

Journal of Philosophical Logic:1-35 (forthcoming)
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What does ‘Smith knows that it might be raining’ mean? Expressivism here faces a challenge, as its basic forms entail a pernicious type of transparency, according to which ‘Smith knows that it might be raining’ is equivalent to ‘it is consistent with everything that Smith knows that it is raining’ or ‘Smith doesn’t know that it isn’t raining’. Pernicious transparency has direct counterexamples and undermines vanilla principles of epistemic logic, such as that knowledge entails true belief and that something can be true without one knowing it might be. I re-frame the challenge in precise terms and propose a novel expressivist formal semantics that meets it by exploiting (i) the topic-sensitivity and fragmentation of knowledge and belief states and (ii) the apparent context-sensitivity of epistemic modality. The resulting form of assertibility semantics advances the state of the art for state-based bilateral semantics by combining attitude reports with context-sensitive modal claims, while evading various objectionable features. In appendices, I compare the proposed system to Beddor and Goldstein’s ‘safety semantics’ and discuss its analysis of a modal Gettier case due to Moss.

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Peter Hawke
Lingnan University

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References found in this work

Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 64 (1):200-201.
Epistemic Modals.Seth Yalcin - 2007 - Mind 116 (464):983-1026.
Questions in Action.Daniel Hoek - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (3):113-143.

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