•  61
    Semantics as Model-Based Science
    In Derek Ball & Brian Rabern (eds.), The Science of Meaning: Essays on the Metatheory of Natural Language Semantics, Oxford University Press. pp. 334-360. 2018.
    This paper critiques a number of standard ways of understanding the role of the metalanguage in a semantic theory for natural language, including the idea that disquotation plays a nontrivial role in any explanatory natural language semantics. It then proposes that the best way to understand the role of a semantic metalanguage involves recognizing that semantics is a model-based science. The metalanguage of semantics is language for articulating features of the theorist's model. Models are under…Read more
  •  201
    Actually, Actually
    Analysis 75 (2): 185-191. 2015.
    The view that actually has a reading on which it is a two-dimensional indexical modal operator has some problems.
  • New Work on Modality, MIT Working Papers in Linguistics (edited book)
    with J. Gajewski, V. Hacquard, and B. Nickel
    . 2005.
  •  108
    Epistemic Modality De Re
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2 475-527. 2015.
    Focusing on cases which involve binding into epistemic modals with definite descriptions and quantifiers, I raise some new problems for standard approaches to all of these expressions. The difficulties are resolved in a semantic framework that is dynamic in character. I close with a new class of problems about de re readings within the scope of modals.
  •  273
    A Counterexample to Modus Tollens
    Journal of Philosophical Logic 41 (6): 1001-1024. 2012.
    This paper defends a counterexample to Modus Tollens, and uses it to draw some conclusions about the logic and semantics of indicative conditionals and probability operators in natural language. Along the way we investigate some of the interactions of these expressions with 'knows', and we call into question the thesis that all knowledge ascriptions have truth-conditions.
  •  111
    Quantifying In from a Fregean Perspective
    Philosophical Review 124 (2): 207-253. 2015.
    As Quine observed, the following sentence has a reading which, if true, would be of special interest to the authorities: Ralph believes that someone is a spy. This is the reading where the quantifier is naturally understood as taking wide scope relative to the attitude verb and as binding a variable within the scope of the attitude verb. This essay is interested in addressing the question what the semantic analysis of this kind of reading should look like from a Fregean perspective—a perspective…Read more
  •  304
    Context Probabilism
    In M. Aloni, Maria Aloni, Vadim Kimmelmann, Floris Roelofson, Galit W. Sassoon, Katrin Schulz & Matthijs Westera (eds.), Logic, Language, and Meaning: 18th Amsterdam Colloquium, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, December 19-21, 2011, Revised Selected Papers, Springer. pp. 12-21. 2012.
    We investigate a basic probabilistic dynamic semantics for a fragment containing conditionals, probability operators, modals, and attitude verbs, with the aim of shedding light on the prospects for adding probabilistic structure to models of the conversational common ground.
  •  240
    Epistemic modals and context: Experimental data
    Semantics and Pragmatics 7 (10): 1-21. 2014.
    Recently, a number of theorists (MacFarlane (2003, 2011), Egan et al. (2005), Egan (2007), Stephenson (2007a,b)) have argued that an adequate semantics and pragmatics for epistemic modals calls for some technical notion of relativist truth and/or relativist content. Much of this work has relied on an empirical thesis about speaker judgments, namely that competent speakers tend to judge a present-tense bare epistemic possibility claim true only if the prejacent is compatible with their informatio…Read more
  •  200
    More on epistemic modals
    Mind 118 (471): 785-793. 2009.
    I respond to comments by David Barnett and Roy Sorensen on my paper ‘Epistemic Modals’
  •  103
    Bayesian Expressivism
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (2pt2): 123-160. 2012.
    I develop a conception of expressivism according to which it is chiefly a pragmatic thesis about some fragment of discourse, one imposing certain constraints on semantics. The first half of the paper uses credal expressivism about the language of probability as a stalking-horse for this purpose. The second half turns to the question of how one might frame an analogous form of expressivism about the language of deontic modality. Here I offer a preliminary comparison of two expressivist lines. The…Read more
  •  11
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 112 (2pt2): 123-160. 2012.
  •  186
    On the Dynamics of Conversation
    Noûs 51 (2): 24-48. 2017.
    There is a longstanding debate in the literature about static versus dynamic approaches to meaning and conversation. A formal result due to van Benthem is often thought to be important for understanding what, conceptually speaking, is at issue in the debate. We introduce the concept of a conversation system, and we use it to clarify the import of van Benthem's result. We then distinguish two classes of conversation systems, corresponding to two concepts of staticness. The first class corresponds…Read more
  •  189
    Nonfactualism about epistemic modality
    In Andy Egan & B. Weatherson (eds.), Epistemic Modality, Oxford University Press. 2011.
    When I tell you that it’s raining, I describe a way the world is—viz., rainy. I say something whose truth turns on how things are with the weather in the world. Likewise when I tell you that the weatherman thinks that it’s raining. Here the truth of what I say turns on how things are with the weatherman’s state of mind in the world. Likewise when I tell you that I think that it’s raining. Here the truth of what I say turns on how things are with my state of mind in the world.
  •  64
    I don’t propose to harp on the question of whether MacFarlane has the data right. Let us just assume, for the sake of argument, that he does. Let us further assume that his interpretation of the data is correct—i.e., that these judgments are assessments of the the whole clause and not simply of the prejacent. Granting all this—maybe a lot—we need a semantics for epistemic modals that will make sense of the judgments in this case, and in relevantly similar cases. Mac- Farlane argues that contextu…Read more
  •  1250
    Epistemic Modals
    Mind 116 (464): 983-1026. 2007.
    Epistemic modal operators give rise to something very like, but also very unlike, Moore's paradox. I set out the puzzling phenomena, explain why a standard relational semantics for these operators cannot handle them, and recommend an alternative semantics. A pragmatics appropriate to the semantics is developed and interactions between the semantics, the pragmatics, and the definition of consequence are investigated. The semantics is then extended to probability operators. Some problems and prosp…Read more
  •  64
    Three notions of dynamicness in language
    Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (4): 333-355. 2016.
    We distinguish three ways that a theory of linguistic meaning and communication might be considered dynamic in character. We provide some examples of systems which are dynamic in some of these senses but not others. We suggest that separating these notions can help to clarify what is at issue in particular debates about dynamic versus static approaches within natural language semantics and pragmatics.
  •  335
    Probability Operators
    Philosophy Compass 5 (11): 916-37. 2010.
    This is a study in the meaning of natural language probability operators, sentential operators such as probably and likely. We ask what sort of formal structure is required to model the logic and semantics of these operators. Along the way we investigate their deep connections to indicative conditionals and epistemic modals, probe their scalar structure, observe their sensitivity to contex- tually salient contrasts, and explore some of their scopal idiosyncrasies.