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W. Starr
Cornell University
  1. A Preference Semantics for Imperatives.William B. Starr - 2020 - Semantics and Pragmatics 20.
    Imperative sentences like Dance! do not seem to represent the world. Recent modal analyses challenge this idea, but its intuitive and historical appeal remain strong. This paper presents three new challenges for a non-representational analysis, showing that the obstacles facing it are even steeper than previously appreciated. I will argue that the only way for the non-representationalist to meet these three challenges is to adopt a dynamic semantics. Such a dynamic semantics is proposed here: imperatives introduce preferences between alternatives. This (...)
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  2. A Uniform Theory of Conditionals.William B. Starr - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (6):1019-1064.
    A uniform theory of conditionals is one which compositionally captures the behavior of both indicative and subjunctive conditionals without positing ambiguities. This paper raises new problems for the closest thing to a uniform analysis in the literature (Stalnaker, Philosophia, 5, 269–286 (1975)) and develops a new theory which solves them. I also show that this new analysis provides an improved treatment of three phenomena (the import-export equivalence, reverse Sobel-sequences and disjunctive antecedents). While these results concern central issues in the study (...)
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  3. Expressing Permission.William B. Starr - 2016 - Semantics and Linguistic Theory 26:325-349.
    This paper proposes a semantics for free choice permission that explains both the non-classical behavior of modals and disjunction in sentences used to grant permission, and their classical behavior under negation. It also explains why permissions can expire when new information comes in and why free choice arises even when modals scope under disjunction. On the proposed approach, deontic modals update preference orderings, and connectives operate on these updates rather than propositions. The success of this approach stems from its capacity (...)
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  4. Dynamic Expressivism about Deontic Modality.William B. Starr - 2016 - In Nate Charlow Matthew Chrisman (ed.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press. pp. 355-394.
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    The structure of communicative acts.Sarah E. Murray & William B. Starr - 2020 - Linguistics and Philosophy 44 (2):425-474.
    Utterances of natural language sentences can be used to communicate not just contents, but also forces. This paper examines this topic from a cross-linguistic perspective on sentential mood. Recent work in this area focuses on conversational dynamics: the three sentence types can be associated with distinctive kinds of conversational effects called sentential forces, modeled as three kinds of updates to the discourse context. This paper has two main goals. First, it provides two arguments, on empirical and methodological grounds, for treating (...)
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  6. What 'If'?William B. Starr - 2014 - Philosophers' Imprint 14.
    No existing conditional semantics captures the dual role of 'if' in embedded interrogatives — 'X wonders if p' — and conditionals. This paper presses the importance and extent of this challenge, linking it to cross-linguistic patterns and other phenomena involving conditionals. Among these other phenomena are conditionals with multiple 'if'-clauses in the antecedent — 'if p and if q, then r' — and relevance conditionals — 'if you are hungry, there is food in the cupboard'. Both phenomena are shown to (...)
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    Mood, Force and Truth. [REVIEW]William B. Starr - 2014 - ProtoSociology 31:160-181.
    There is a big difference between saying Maya is singing, Is Maya singing? and Sing Maya! This paper examines and criticizes two attempts to rigorously explain this difference: Searle’s speech act theory and the truth-conditional reductionism advocated by Davidson and Lewis. On the speech act analysis, each utterance contains a marker which says what kind of speech act the utterance counts as performing. The truth-conditional reductionists try to reanalyze the non-declaratives (Is Maya singing? and Sing Maya!) as complex declarative forms. (...)
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  8. Force, Mood and Truth.William B. Starr - 2014 - ProtoSociology 31:160-181.
  9. On Making Counterfactual Assumptions: Veltman (2005) and Beyond.William B. Starr - unknown
    (1) a. Invariably, if it is raining, Jones wears his hat b. If it is not raining, Jones wears his hat at random c. Today, it is raining and so Jones is wearing his hat d. But, even if it had not been raining, Jones would have been wearing his hat..
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