•  106
    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 fu…Read more
  •  152
    I propose an account of the speech act of prediction that denies that the contents of prediction must be about the future and illuminates the relation between prediction and assertion. My account is a synthesis of two ideas: (i) that what is in the future in prediction is the time of discovery and (ii) that, as Benton and Turri recently argued, prediction is best characterized in terms of its constitutive norms.
  •  475
    On Stalnaker's "Indicative Conditionals"
    In Louise McNally, Yael Sharvit & Zoltan Szabo (eds.), Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy, Vol 100, Springer. forthcoming.
    This paper is a guide to the main ideas and innovations in Robert Stalnaker's "Indicative Conditionals". The paper is for a volume of essays on twenty-one classics of formal semantics edited by Louise McNally, Yael Sharvit and Zoltàn Gendler Szabò
  •  444
    Conditionals, Context, and the Suppression Effect
    Cognitive Science 41 (3): 540-589. 2017.
    Modus ponens is the argument from premises of the form If A, then B and A to the conclusion B. Nearly all participants agree that the modus ponens conclusion logically follows when the argument appears in this Basic form. However, adding a further premise can lower participants’ rate of agreement—an effect called suppression. We propose a theory of suppression that draws on contemporary ideas about conditional sentences in linguistics and philosophy. Semantically, the theory assumes that people …Read more
  •  373
    Confidence Reports
    with Paolo Santorio and Alexis Wellwood
    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 i…Read more
  •  591
    Assertion and Modality
    In Sanford Goldberg (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Assertion, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    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.
  •  431
    A Context Principle for the Twenty-first Century
    In Annalisa Coliva, Paolo Leonardi & Sebastiano Moruzzi (eds.), Eva Picardi on Language, Analysis and History, . forthcoming.
    This is an article for an upcoming volume of essays in honor and memory of Eva Picardi. I engage with the literature that has tried to distill the significance of Frege's context principle for the philosophy of language (setting aside its role in Frege's argument for mathematical platonism). I argue that there are some interpretive problems with recent meta-semantic interpretations of the principle. Instead, I offer a somewhat weaker alternative: the context principle is a tool to license certai…Read more
  •  932
    Conditional Heresies
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. forthcoming.
    The principles of Conditional Excluded Middle (CEM) and Simplification of Disjunctive Antecedents (SDA) have received substantial attention in isolation. Both principles are plausible generalizations about natural language conditionals. There is however little or no discussion of their inter- action. This paper aims to remedy this gap and explore the significance of having both principles constrain the logic of the conditional. Our negative finding is that, together with elementary logical assum…Read more
  •  568
    Choice Points for a Modal Theory of Disjunction
    Topoi 36 (1): 171-181. 2017.
    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.
  •  875
    Consequence and Contrast in Deontic Semantics
    Journal of Philosophy 113 (8): 396-416. 2016.
    Contrastivists view ought-sentences as expressing comparisons among alternatives. Deontic actualists believe that the value of each alternative in such a comparison is determined by what would actually happen if that alternative were to be the case. One of the arguments that motivates actualism is a challenge to the principle of agglomeration over conjunction—the principle according to which if you ought to run and you ought to jump, then you ought to run and jump. I argue that there is no way o…Read more
  •  1074
    Epistemic and Deontic Should
    Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 2 (1): 73-84. 2013.
    Probabilistic theories of “should” and “ought” face a predicament. At first blush, it seems that such theories must provide different lexical entries for the epistemic and the deontic interpretations of these modals. I show that there is a new style of premise semantics that can avoid this consequence in an attractively conservative way.
  •  1146
    Statements about the future are central in everyday conversation and reasoning. How should we understand their meaning? The received view among philosophers treats will as a tense: in ‘Cynthia will pass her exam’, will shifts the reference time forward. Linguists, however, have produced substantial evidence for the view that will is a modal, on a par with must and would. The different accounts are designed to satisfy different theoretical constraints, apparently pulling in opposite directions. W…Read more
  •  920
    ‘Ought’ and Resolution Semantics
    Noûs 47 (3): 534-558. 2013.
    I motivate and characterize an intensional semantics for ‘ought’ on which it does not behave as a universal quantifier over possibilities. My motivational argument centers on taking at face value some standard challenges to the quantificational semantics, especially to the idea that ‘ought’-sentences satisfy the principle of Inheritance. I argue that standard pragmatic approaches to these puzzles are either not sufficiently detailed or unconvincing.
  •  145
    Decision framing in judgment aggregation
    with Marc Pauly and Josh Snyder
    Synthese 163 (1). 2008.
    Judgment aggregation problems are language dependent in that they may be framed in different yet equivalent ways. We formalize this dependence via the notion of translation invariance, adopted from the philosophy of science, and we argue for the normative desirability of translation invariance. We characterize the class of translation invariant aggregation functions in the canonical judgment aggregation model, which requires collective judgments to be complete. Since there are reasonable transla…Read more
  •  512
    Chance, Credence and Circles
    Episteme 14 (1): 49-58. 2017.
    This is a discussion of Richard Pettigrew's book "Accuracy and the Laws of Credence". I target Pettigrew's application of the accuracy framework to derive chance-credence principles. My principal contention is that Pettigrew's preferred version of the argument might in one sense be circular and, moreover, that Pettigrew's premises have content that go beyond that of standard chance-credence principles.
  •  50
    Epistemology in Group Agency: Six objections in search of the truth (review)
    Episteme 9 (3): 255-269. 2012.
    List and Pettit's Group Agency is an extremely important book, spearheading a new wave of work on the metaphysics, epistemology and ethics of group agents. In this article, I focus on the epistemological thread in their discussion. After introducing the apparatus they use in analyzing the epistemic performance of groups, I criticize some elements and point to some ways in which the very same apparatus could be redirected to address them.Send article to KindleTo send this article to your Kindle, …Read more
  •  57
    Attitudes, Deontics and Semantic Neutrality
    Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (4): 491-511. 2014.
    It has been recently suggested that a semantic theory for deontic modals should be neutral between a very large range of normative and evaluative theories. This article aims to clarify this talk of neutrality, in particular its scope and motivation. My thesis is that neutrality is best understood as an empirical thesis about a fragment of natural language that includes deontic modals – not as a new, sui generis methodological constraint on natural language semantics.
  • Deontic Logic and Normative Systems (edited book)
    with Davide Grossi, Joke Meheus, and Xavier Parent
    Springer. 2014.
  •  1001
    Deontic Modals and Probability: One Theory to Rule Them All?
    In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality, Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
    This paper motivates and develops a novel semantic framework for deontic modals. The framework is designed to shed light on two things: the relationship between deontic modals and substantive theories of practical rationality and the interaction of deontic modals with conditionals, epistemic modals and probability operators. I argue that, in order to model inferential connections between deontic modals and probability operators, we need more structure than is provided by classical intensional th…Read more
  •  89
    Judgment Aggregation
    Philosophy Compass 6 (1): 22-32. 2011.
  •  354
    Aggregating with reason
    Synthese 190 (15): 3123-3147. 2013.
  •  82
    Deliberative modality under epistemic uncertainty
    Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (3): 225-259. 2013.
    We discuss the semantic significance of a puzzle concerning ‘ought’ and conditionals recently discussed by Kolodny and MacFarlane. We argue that the puzzle is problematic for the standard Kratzer-style analysis of modality. In Kratzer’s semantics, modals are evaluated relative to a pair of conversational backgrounds. We show that there is no sensible way of assigning values to these conversational backgrounds so as to derive all of the intuitions in Kolodny and MacFarlane’s case. We show that th…Read more
  •  360
    We present and discuss a series of experiments designed to test one of the most promising pragmatic accounts of conditional perfection—the phenomenon according to which conditionals can sometimes be strengthened to biconditionals. We test the idea that conditional perfection is a form of exhaustification triggered by the kind of question that the conditional is used to answer. We uncover evidence that conditional perfection is a form of exhaustification, but not that it is triggered by a relatio…Read more
  •  403
    Local Supermajorities
    Erkenntnis 81 (2): 391-406. 2016.
    This paper explores two non-standard supermajority rules in the context of judgment aggregation over multiple logically connected issues. These rules set the supermajority threshold in a local, context sensitive way—partly as a function of the input profile of opinions. To motivate the interest of these rules, I prove two results. First, I characterize each rule in terms of a condition I call ‘Block Preservation’. Block preservation says that if a majority of group members accept a judgment set,…Read more