•  245
    Hurford Conditionals
    Journal of Semantics 35 (2): 357-367. 2018.
    Compare the following conditionals: 'If John is not in Paris, he is in France' versus 'If John is in France, he is not in Paris.' The second sounds entirely natural, whereas the first sounds quite strange. This contrast is puzzling, because these two conditionals have the same structure at a certain level of logical abstraction, namely 'If ¬p+, then p.' We argue that existing theories of informational oddness do not distinguish between these conditionals. We do not have an account of the diverge…Read more
  •  79
    What does it take for S to be able to do p? According to one analysis, it is enough that doing p is compatible with S's intrinsic properties and contextually salient local circumstances. According to a competitor analysis, it is rather that S would do p if she tried to. According to yet another alternative, it is that doing p is somehow under S's control. I argue that probability judgments about chancy ability ascriptions provide an important new source of evidence for this debate. In particular…Read more
  •  104
    The conjunction fallacy is the well-documented empirical finding that subjects sometimes rate a conjunction A&B as more probable than one of its conjuncts, A. Most explanations appeal in some way to the fact that B has a high probability. But Tentori et al. (2013) have recently challenged such approaches, reporting experiments which find that (1) when B is confirmed by relevant evidence despite having low probability, the fallacy is common, and (2) when B has a high probability but has not been …Read more
  •  32
    Compatibility, compossibility, and epistemic modality
    Proceedings of the 23rd Amsterdam Colloquium. forthcoming.
    We give a theory of epistemic modals in the framework of possibility semantics and axiomatize the corresponding logic, arguing that it aptly characterizes the ways in which reasoning with epistemic modals does, and does not, diverge from classical modal logic.
  •  83
    Trivalence and Anaphora
    In Paul Egré & Lorenzo Rossi (eds.), Handbook of Three-Valued Logics, Mit Press. forthcoming.
    I survey the role of trivalence in theories of anaphora.
  •  84
    Epistemic modals have peculiar logical features that are challenging to account for in a broadly classical framework. For instance, while a sentence of the form ‘p, but it might be that not p’ appears to be a contradiction, 'might not p' does not entail 'not p', which would follow in classical logic. Likewise, the classical laws of distributivity and disjunctive syllogism fail for epistemic modals. Existing attempts to account for these facts generally either under- or over-correct. Some theorie…Read more
  •  706
    Assertion is weak
    Philosophers' Imprint 22 (n/a). 2022.
    Recent work has argued that belief is weak: the level of rational credence required for belief is relatively low. That literature has contrasted belief with assertion, arguing that the latter requires an epistemic state much stronger than (weak) belief---perhaps knowledge or even certainty. We argue that this is wrong: assertion is just as weak as belief. We first present a variety of new arguments for this, and then show that the standard arguments for stronger norms are not convincing. Finally…Read more
  •  317
    Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (5): 1091-1117. 2022.
    The meaning of definite descriptions (like ‘the King of France’, ‘the girl’, etc.) has been a central topic in philosophy and linguistics for the past century. Indefinites (‘Something is on the floor’, ‘A child sat down’, etc.) have been relatively neglected in philosophy, under the Russellian assumption that they can be unproblematically treated as existential quantifiers. However, an important tradition, drawing from Stoic logic, has pointed to patterns which suggest that indefinites cannot be…Read more
  •  1784
    Good Guesses
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 105 (3): 581-618. 2023.
    This paper is about guessing: how people respond to a question when they aren’t certain of the answer. Guesses show surprising and systematic patterns that the most obvious theories don’t explain. We argue that these patterns reveal that people aim to optimize a tradeoff between accuracy and informativity when forming their guess. After spelling out our theory, we use it to argue that guessing plays a central role in our cognitive lives. In particular, our account of guessing yields new theories…Read more
  •  455
    Eavesdropping: What is it good for?
    Semantics and Pragmatics. forthcoming.
    Eavesdropping judgments (judgments about truth, retraction, and consistency across contexts) about epistemic modals have been used in recent years to argue for a radical thesis: that truth is assessment-relative. We argue that judgments for 'I think that p' pattern in strikingly similar ways to judgments for 'Might p' and 'Probably p'. We argue for this by replicating three major experiments involving the latter and adding a condition with the form 'I think that p', showing that subjects respond…Read more
  •  600
    A Counterexample to Modus Ponenses
    Journal of Philosophy 117 (6): 315-331. 2020.
    McGee argued that modus ponens was invalid for the natural language conditional ‘If…then…’. Many subsequent responses have argued that, while McGee’s examples show that modus ponens fails to preserve truth, they do not show that modus ponens fails to preserve rational full acceptance, and thus modus ponens may still be valid in the latter informational sense. I show that when we turn our attention from indicative conditionals to subjunctive conditionals, we find that modus ponens does not preser…Read more
  •  10
    We’ve discovered that projection across conjunction is asymmetric
    with Jérémy Zehr, Jacopo Romoli, and Florian Schwarz
    Linguistics and Philosophy 43 (5): 473-514. 2020.
    Is the mechanism behind presupposition projection and filtering fundamentally asymmetric or symmetric? This is a foundational question for the theory of presupposition which has been at the centre of attention in recent literature :287–316, 2008b. https://doi.org/10.1515/THLI.2008.021, Semant Pragmat 2:1–78, 2009. https://doi.org/10.3765/sp.2.3; Rothschild in Semant Pragmat 4:1–43, 2011/2015. https://doi.org/10.3765/sp.4.3 a.o.). It also bears on broader issues concerning the source of asymmetri…Read more
  •  280
    Definiteness Projection
    Natural Language Semantics 1-33. 2019.
    We argue that definite noun phrases give rise to uniqueness inferences characterized by a pattern we call definiteness projection. Definiteness projection says that the uniqueness inference of a definite projects out unless there is an indefinite antecedent in a position that filters presuppositions. We argue that definiteness projection poses a serious puzzle for e-type theories of (in)definites; on such theories, indefinites should filter existence presuppositions but not uniqueness presupposi…Read more
  •  30
    We’ve discovered that projection across conjunction is asymmetric
    with Jérémy Zehr, Jacopo Romoli, and Florian Schwarz
    Linguistics and Philosophy 43 (5): 473-514. 2020.
    Is the mechanism behind presupposition projection and filtering fundamentally asymmetric or symmetric? This is a foundational question for the theory of presupposition which has been at the centre of attention in recent literature. It also bears on broader issues concerning the source of asymmetries observed in natural language: are these simply rooted in superficial asymmetries of language use ; or are they, at least in part, directly encoded in linguistic knowledge and representations? In this…Read more
  •  741
    If P, Then P!
    Journal of Philosophy 118 (12): 645-679. 2021.
    The Identity principle says that conditionals with the form 'If p, then p' are logical truths. Identity is overwhelmingly plausible, and has rarely been explicitly challenged. But a wide range of conditionals nonetheless invalidate it. I explain the problem, and argue that the culprit is the principle known as Import-Export, which we must thus reject. I then explore how we can reject Import-Export in a way that still makes sense of the intuitions that support it, arguing that the differences bet…Read more
  •  219
    Roads to Necessitarianism
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (1): 89-96. 2021.
    We show that each of three natural sets of assumptions about the conditional entails necessitarianism: that anything possible is necessary.
  •  230
    Dynamic Non-Classicality
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (2): 382-392. 2020.
    I show that standard dynamic approaches to the semantics of epistemic modals invalidate the classical laws of excluded middle and non-contradiction, as well as the law of epistemic non-contradiction. I argue that these facts pose a serious challenge.
  •  512
    Practical Moore Sentences
    Noûs 55 (1): 39-61. 2021.
    I discuss what I call practical Moore sentences: sentences like ‘You must close your door, but I don’t know whether you will’, which combine an order together with an avowal of agnosticism about whether the order will be obeyed. I show that practical Moore sentences are generally infelicitous. But this infelicity is surprising: it seems like there should be nothing wrong with giving someone an order while acknowledging that you do not know whether it will obeyed. I suggest that this infelicity p…Read more
  •  322
    Talking about worlds
    Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1): 298-325. 2018.
    I explore the logic of the conditional, using credence judgments to argue against Duality and in favor of Conditional Excluded Middle. I then explore how to give a theory of the conditional which validates the latter and not the former, developing a variant on Kratzer (1981)'s restrictor theory, as well as a proposal which combines Stalnaker (1968)'s theory of the conditional with the theory of epistemic modals I develop in Mandelkern 2019a. I argue that the latter approach fits naturally with a…Read more
  •  388
    Modality and expressibility
    Review of Symbolic Logic 12 (4): 768-805. 2019.
    When embedding data are used to argue against semantic theory A and in favor of semantic theory B, it is important to ask whether A could make sense of those data. It is possible to ask that question on a case-by-case basis. But suppose we could show that A can make sense of all the embedding data which B can possibly make sense of. This would, on the one hand, undermine arguments in favor of B over A on the basis of embedding data. And, provided that the converse does not hold—that is, that A c…Read more
  •  364
    How to do things with modals
    Mind and Language 35 (1): 115-138. 2020.
    Mind &Language, Volume 35, Issue 1, Page 115-138, February 2020.
  •  338
    Sticky situations: 'Force' and quantifier domains
    Semantics and Linguistic Theory 28. forthcoming.
    When do we judge that someone was forced to do what they did? One relatively well-established finding is that subjects tend to judge that agents were not forced to do actions when those actions violate norms. A surprising discovery of Young & Phillips 2011 is that this effect seems to disappear when we frame the relevant ‘force’-claim in the active rather than passive voice ('X forced Y to φ ' vs. 'Y was forced to φ by X'). Young and Phillips found a similar contrast when the scenario itself shi…Read more
  •  225
    What ‘must’ adds
    Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (3): 225-266. 2019.
    There is a difference between the conditions in which one can felicitously use a ‘must’-claim like and those in which one can use the corresponding claim without the ‘must’, as in 'It must be raining out' versus 'It is raining out. It is difficult to pin down just what this difference amounts to. And it is difficult to account for this difference, since assertions of 'Must p' and assertions of p alone seem to have the same basic goal: namely, communicating that p is true. In this paper I give a …Read more
  •  154
    There is a difference between the conditions in which one can felicitously assert a ‘must’-claim versus those in which one can use the corresponding non-modal claim. But it is difficult to pin down just what this difference amounts to. And it is even harder to account for this difference, since assertions of 'Must ϕ' and assertions of ϕ alone seem to have the same basic goal: namely, coming to agreement that [[ϕ]] is true. In this paper I take on this puzzle, known as Karttunen’s Problem. I begi…Read more
  •  179
    Independence Day?
    Journal of Semantics 36 (2): 193-210. 2019.
    Two recent and influential papers, van Rooij 2007 and Lassiter 2012, propose solutions to the proviso problem that make central use of related notions of independence—qualitative in the first case, probabilistic in the second. We argue here that, if these solutions are to work, they must incorporate an implicit assumption about presupposition accommodation, namely that accommodation does not interfere with existing qualitative or probabilistic independencies. We show, however, that this assumpti…Read more
  •  227
    Against Preservation
    Analysis 79 (3): 424-436. 2019.
    Bradley offers a quick and convincing argument that no Boolean semantic theory for conditionals can validate a very natural principle concerning the relationship between credences and conditionals. We argue that Bradley’s principle, Preservation, is, in fact, invalid; its appeal arises from the validity of a nearby, but distinct, principle, which we call Local Preservation, and which Boolean semantic theories can non-trivially validate.
  •  289
    A part of Stalnaker (1968)’s influential theory of conditionals has been neglected, namely the role for an accessibility relation between worlds. I argue that the accessibility relation does not play the role intended for it in the theory as stated, and propose a minimal revision which solves the problem, and brings the theory in line with the formulation in Stalnaker & Thomason 1970.
  •  322
    Asymmetry in presupposition projection: The case of conjunction
    with Jeremy Zehr, Jacopo Romoli, and Florian Schwarz
    Semantics and Linguistic Theory 27. forthcoming.
    Is the basic mechanism behind presupposition projection fundamentally asymmetric or symmetric? This is a basic question for the theory of presupposition, which also bears on broader issues concerning the source of asymmetries observed in natural language: are these simply rooted in superficial asymmetries of language use— language use unfolds in time, which we experience as fundamentally asymmetric— or can they be, at least in part, directly referenced in linguistic knowledge and representations…Read more
  •  460
    Import‐Export and ‘And’
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 100 (1): 118-135. 2020.
    Import-Export says that a conditional 'If p, if q, r' is always equivalent to the conditional 'If p and q, r'. I argue that Import-Export does not sit well with a classical approach to conjunction: given some plausible and widely accepted principles about conditionals, Import-Export together with classical conjunction leads to absurd consequences. My main goal is to draw out these surprising connections. In concluding I argue that the right response is to reject Import-Export and adopt instead a…Read more
  •  698
    Bounded Modality
    Philosophical Review 128 (1): 1-61. 2019.
    What does 'might' mean? One hypothesis is that 'It might be raining' is essentially an avowal of ignorance like 'For all I know, it's raining'. But it turns out these two constructions embed in different ways, in particular as parts of larger constructions like Wittgenstein's 'It might be raining and it's not' and Moore's 'It's raining and I don't know it', respectively. A variety of approaches have been developed to account for those differences. All approaches agree that both Moore sentences a…Read more