•  190
    Modality in Language
    Philosophy Compass 3 (6): 1193-1207. 2008.
    This article discusses some of the ways in which natural language can express modal information – information which is, to a first approximation, about what could be or must be the case, as opposed to being about what actually is the case. It motivates, explains, and raises problems for Angelika Kratzer's influential theory of modal auxiliaries, and introduces a new approach to one important debate about the relationships between modality, evidentiality, context change, and imperative force.
  •  153
    On Scope Relations between Quantifiers and Epistemic Modals
    Journal of Semantics 27 (4): 529-540. 2010.
    This paper presents and discusses a range of counterexamples to the common view that quantifiers cannot take scope over epistemic modals. Some of the counterexamples raise problems for ‘force modifier’ theories of epistemic modals. Some of the counterexamples raise problems for Robert Stalnaker’s theory of counterfactuals, according to which a special kind of epistemic modal must be able to scope over a whole counterfactual. Finally, some of the counterexamples suggest that David Lewis must coun…Read more
  •  130
    Structurally Defined Alternatives and Lexicalizations of XOR
    Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (1): 31-36. 2010.
    In his recent paper on the symmetry problem Roni Katzir argues that the only relevant factor for the calculation of any Quantity implicature is syntactic structure. I first refute Katzir’s thesis with three examples that show that structural complexity is irrelevant to the calculation of some Quantity implicatures. I then argue that it is inadvisable to assume—as Katzir and others do—that exactly one factor is relevant to the calculation of any Quantity implicature
  •  130
    © Swanson 2017How Propaganda Works is a brilliant, rich, and wide-ranging exploration of the interactions between ideology, inequality, democracy and propaganda. Read as a piece of analytic political philosophy, it is radical, arguing for bold theses about democracy: legitimate democratic deliberation, Stanley contends, requires not only political equality but also substantive material equality. Read as a piece of analytic epistemology and philosophy of language, it is more modest, but neverthel…Read more
  •  122
    Interactions with Context
    Dissertation, MIT. 2006.
    My dissertation asks how we affect conversational context and how it affects us when we participate in any conversation—including philosophical conversations. Chapter 1 argues that speakers make pragmatic presuppositions when they use proper names. I appeal to these presuppositions in giving a treatment of Frege’s puzzle that is consistent with the claim that coreferential proper names have the same semantic value. I outline an explanation of the way presupposition carrying expressions in genera…Read more
  •  117
    Propositional Attitudes
    In Claudia Maienborn, Klaus von Heusinger & Paul Portner (eds.), Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning, Berlin: Mouton De Gruyter (draft -- Forthcoming). 2010.
  •  111
    Subjunctive biscuit and stand-off conditionals
    Philosophical Studies 163 (3): 637-648. 2013.
    Conventional wisdom has it that many intriguing features of indicative conditionals aren’t shared by subjunctive conditionals. Subjunctive morphology is common in discussions of wishes and wants, however, and conditionals are commonly used in such discussions as well. As a result such discussions are a good place to look for subjunctive conditionals that exhibit features usually associated with indicatives alone. Here I offer subjunctive versions of J. L. Austin’s ‘biscuit’ conditionals—e.g., “T…Read more
  •  103
    How not to theorize about the language of subjective uncertainty
    In Andy Egan & Brian Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality, Oxford University Press. 2009.
    A successful theory of the language of subjective uncertainty would meet several important constraints. First, it would explain how use of the language of subjective uncertainty affects addressees’ states of subjective uncertainty. Second, it would explain how such use affects what possibilities are treated as live for purposes of conversation. Third, it would accommodate 'quantifying in' to the scope of epistemic modals. Fourth, it would explain the norms governing the language of subjective…Read more
  •  83
    We can think of ordinary truth-conditional semantics as giving us constraints on cognitive states. But constraints on cognitive states can be more complicated than simply believing a proposition. And we communicate more complicated constraints on cognitive states. We also communicate constraints that seem to bear on affective and conative states.
  •  82
    Until recently it was standard to think that all demonstratives are directly referential. This assumption has played important roles in work on perception, reference, mental content, and the nature of propositions. But Jeff King claims that demonstratives with a nominal complement (like ‘that dog’) are quantifiers, largely because there are cases in which the semantic value of such a “complex demonstrative” is not simply an object (2001). Although I agree with King that such cases preclude a dir…Read more
  •  81
    Channels for Common Ground
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
  •  79
    On the Treatment of Incomparability in Ordering Semantics and Premise Semantics
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 40 (6): 693-713. 2011.
    In his original semantics for counterfactuals, David Lewis presupposed that the ordering of worlds relevant to the evaluation of a counterfactual admitted no incomparability between worlds. He later came to abandon this assumption. But the approach to incomparability he endorsed makes counterintuitive predictions about a class of examples circumscribed in this paper. The same underlying problem is present in the theories of modals and conditionals developed by Bas van Fraassen, Frank Veltman, an…Read more
  •  70
    Ordering Supervaluationism, Counterpart Theory, and Ersatz Fundamentality
    Journal of Philosophy 111 (6): 289-310. 2014.
    Many philosophical theories make comparisons between objects, events, states of affairs, worlds, or systems, and many such theories deliver plausible verdicts only if some of the elements they compare are ranked as ‘best.’ When the relevant ordering does not have such ‘best’ or ‘tied for best’ elements the theory wrongly falls silent or gives badly counterintuitive results. This paper develops ordering supervaluationism---a very general technique that allows any such theory to handle these probl…Read more
  •  69
    The Application of Constraint Semantics to the Language of Subjective Uncertainty
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 45 (2): 121-146. 2016.
    This paper develops a compositional, type-driven constraint semantic theory for a fragment of the language of subjective uncertainty. In the particular application explored here, the interpretation function of constraint semantics yields not propositions but constraints on credal states as the semantic values of declarative sentences. Constraints are richer than propositions in that constraints can straightforwardly represent assessments of the probability that the world is one way rather than a…Read more
  •  60
    Review of Reflections on Meaning, by Paul Horwich (review)
    Philosophical Review 118 (1): 131-134. 2009.
    Reflections on Meaning refines Paul Horwich’s use theory of meaning. Horwich holds that the meaning of a word is constituted by the nonsemantic property that best explains a certain law. For a given word, the law to be explained governs that word’s use by specifying the “acceptance conditions” of a privileged class of sentences containing the word (26). Horwich devotes considerable energy to details in Reflections on Meaning and focuses on especially pressing problems for his use theory of meani…Read more
  •  58
    Inderterminacy in Causation
    Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268): 606-624. 2017.
    I argue that there are some causal relata for which it is indeterminate whether one caused the other. Positing indeterminacy in causation helps us defend contested principles in the logic of causation and makes possible new ways of thinking about the theoretical impact of symmetric causal overdetermination. I close by discussing amendments of current theories of causation that would help explain causal indeterminacy.
  •  52
    Omissive Implicature
    Philosophical Topics 45 (2): 117-137. 2017.
    In some contexts, not saying S generates a conversational implicature: that the speaker didn’t have sufficient reason, all things considered, to say S. I call this an omissive implicature. Standard ways of thinking about conversational implicature make the importance and even the existence of omissive implicatures somewhat surprising. But I argue that there is no principled reason to deny that there are such implicatures, and that they help explain a range of important phenomena. This paper focu…Read more
  •  37
    Reflections on Meaning
    Philosophical Review 118 (1): 131-134. 2009.
  •  24
  •  7
    Channels for Common Ground
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
  •  6
    with Franz Huber and Jonathan Weisberg
    Erkenntnis 70 (2): 133-134. 2009.
  •  4
    Indeterminacy in Causation
    Philosophical Quarterly 67 (268). 2017.
  •  1