
Aspects of the Meaning and Use of ConditionalsDissertation, Stanford University. 2002.Conditional sentences pose a problem for semantic accounts in terms of truth conditions. On the one hand, evidence about the validity of inference patterns suggests that there is a close relationship between conditionals and conditional probability. On the other hand, while probability is typically interpreted as the probability that a proposition is true, that connection has proven elusive in the case of conditionals. Some probabilistic accounts accommodate these obstacles by concluding either …Read more

6Modality and temporalityJournal of Semantics 22 (2): 119128. 2005.The present collection addresses a number of issues in the semantic interpretation of modal and temporal expressions. Despite the variety the papers exhibit both in the selection of topics and the choice of formal frameworks, they are interconnected through several overarching themes that are at the centre of much ongoing research. The purpose of this brief introduction is to put the papers into context and draw the reader's attention to some of these connections. The topics we will discuss in t…Read more

10Conditionals and ModalityIn Shalom Lappin & Chris Fox (eds.), Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory, Wileyblackwell. pp. 237270. 2015.

10Towards a Probabilistic Analysis for Conditionals and UnconditionalsIn Mihoko Otake, Setsuya Kurahashi, Yuiko OtaKen Satoh & Daisuke Bekki (eds.), New Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence, Springer. pp. 314. 2017.The thesis that the probability of a conditional`if A, C' is the corresponding conditional probability of C, given A, enjoys wide currency among philosophers and growing empirical support in psychology. In this paper I ask how a probabilisitic account of conditionals along these lines could be extended to unconditional sentences, i.e., conditionals with interrogative antecedents. Such sentences are typically interpreted as equivalent to conjunctions of conditionals. This raises a number of chall…Read more

10Conditionals, Conditional Probabilities, and ConditionalizationIn HansChristian Schmitz & Henk Zeevat (eds.), Bayesian Natural Language Semantics and Pragmatics, Springer. pp. 7194. 2015.Philosophers investigating the interpretation and use of conditional sentences have long been intrigued by the intuitive correspondence between the probability of a conditional `if A, then C' and the conditional probability of C, given A. Attempts to account for this intuition within a general probabilistic theory of belief, meaning and use have been plagued by a danger of trivialization, which has proven to be remarkably recalcitrant and absorbed much of the creative effort in the area. But the…Read more

91Conditioning against the grainJournal of Philosophical Logic 33 (6): 583606. 2004.This paper discusses counterexamples to the thesis that the probabilities of conditionals are conditional probabilities. It is argued that the discrepancy is systematic and predictable, and that conditional probabilities are crucially involved in the apparently deviant interpretations. Furthermore, the examples suggest that such conditionals have a less prominent reading on which their probability is in fact the conditional probability, and that the two readings are related by a simple step of a…Read more

25Conditional Truth and Future ReferenceJournal of Semantics 22 (3): 231280. 2005.This paper proposes a compositional modeltheoretic account of the way the interpretation of indicative conditionals is determined and constrained by the temporal and modal expressions in their constituents. The main claim is that the tenses in both the antecedent and the consequent of an indicative conditional are interpreted in the same way as in isolation. This is controversial for the antecedents of predictive conditionals like ‘If he arrives tomorrow, she will leave’, whose Present tense is…Read more

60Conditional predictionsLinguistics and Philosophy 28 (2). 2005.The connection between the probabilities of conditionals and the corresponding conditional probabilities has long been explored in the philosophical literature, but its implementation faces both technical obstacles and objections on empirical grounds. In this paper I ?rst outline the motivation for the probabilistic turn and Lewis’ triviality results, which stand in the way of what would seem to be its most straightforward implementation. I then focus on Richard Jeffrey’s ’randomvariable’ appro…Read more

46Conditionals Right and Left: Probabilities for the Whole FamilyJournal of Philosophical Logic 38 (1): 153. 2009.The fact that the standard probabilistic calculus does not define probabilities for sentences with embedded conditionals is a fundamental problem for the probabilistic theory of conditionals. Several authors have explored ways to assign probabilities to such sentences, but those proposals have come under criticism for making counterintuitive predictions. This paper examines the source of the problematic predictions and proposes an amendment which corrects them in a principled way. The account br…Read more

37Tracing semantic change with latent semantic analysisIn Kathryn Allan & Justyna A. Robinson (eds.), Current Methods in Historical Semantics, De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 73161. 2011.

49Causal Explanation and Fact Mutability in Counterfactual ReasoningMind and Language 27 (1): 5585. 2012.Recent work on the interpretation of counterfactual conditionals has paid much attention to the role of causal independencies. One influential idea from the theory of Causal Bayesian Networks is that counterfactual assumptions are made by intervention on variables, leaving all of their causal nondescendants unaffected. But intervention is not applicable across the board. For instance, backtracking counterfactuals, which involve reasoning from effects to causes, cannot proceed by intervention in…Read more

55Causal Premise SemanticsCognitive Science 37 (6): 11361170. 2013.The rise of causality and the attendant graphtheoretic modeling tools in the study of counterfactual reasoning has had resounding effects in many areas of cognitive science, but it has thus far not permeated the mainstream in linguistic theory to a comparable degree. In this study I show that a version of the predominant framework for the formal semantic analysis of conditionals, Kratzerstyle premise semantics, allows for a straightforward implementation of the crucial ideas and insights of Pe…Read more

82Deliberative modality under epistemic uncertaintyLinguistics and Philosophy 36 (3): 225259. 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 Kratzerstyle 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

University of ConnecticutAssociate Professor
Storrs, Connecticut, United States of America
Areas of Specialization
Metaphysics and Epistemology 
Areas of Interest
Metaphysics and Epistemology 