Topoi 36 (1):141-153 (2017)

Authors
Joe Salerno
Saint Louis University
Abstract
At the center of the debate between contextualist versus relativist semantics for epistemic modal claims is an empirical question about when competent subjects judge epistemic modal disagreement to be present. John MacFarlane’s relativist claims that we judge there to be epistemic modal disagreement across the widest range of cases. We wish to dispute the robustness of his data with the results of two studies. Our primary conclusion is that the actual disagreement data is not consistent with relativist predictions, and so, that the primary motivation for relativism disappears. Our study differs from a related study by Knobe and Yalcin :1–21, 2014) in that we focus directly on the question of genuine disagreement, as opposed to a question about truth or the appropriateness of retraction. Some of our findings agree with theirs about relativism. We uncover new lessons along the way, including that there are widespread situation effects of epistemic modal discourse; idiosyncratic features of the vignettes significantly influencing judgments about epistemic modal disagreement. We reflect with mixed feelings on the prospects for contextualism to accommodate our findings.
Keywords Epistemic modals  Epistemic possibility  Contextualism  Relativism
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DOI 10.1007/s11245-015-9363-y
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References found in this work BETA

Knowledge and Practical Interests.Jason Stanley - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
Knowledge and Practical Interests.Jason Stanley - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (1):180-187.
Relativism and Disagreement.John MacFarlane - 2007 - Philosophical Studies 132 (1):17-31.
What 'Must' and 'Can' Must and Can Mean.Angelika Kratzer - 1977 - Linguistics and Philosophy 1 (3):337--355.
Epistemic Modals in Context.Andy Egan, John Hawthorne & Brian Weatherson - 2005 - In Gerhard Preyer & Georg Peter (eds.), Contextualism in Philosophy. Oxford University Press. pp. 131-170.

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Citations of this work BETA

New Horizons for a Theory of Epistemic Modals.Justin Khoo & Jonathan Phillips - 2019 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 97 (2):309-324.
The Liar Without Relativism.Poppy Mankowitz - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-22.

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