The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Thu Oct 30, 2014
Howison Library, 4–6 PM
Philosophy Colloquium
Sarah Moss (University of Michigan)
On the Semantics of Epistemic Vocabulary

This paper motivates and develops a semantics for epistemic modals and other epistemic vocabulary. If we start by studying the behavior of simple nested modals, we can naturally build a theory that explains the interaction of epistemic modals and indicative conditionals, together with other distinctive data not sufficiently appreciated by extant theories. The semantics I defend constitutes a dramatic alternative to standard truth conditional theories, as it assigns sets of probability measures rather than sets of worlds as sentential semantic values. I argue that what my theory lacks in conservatism is made up for by its strength; combined with a novel pragmatics, my semantics accounts for a wide range of useful empirical judgments.