PhLiP is going onLine! Until we can come together in person again, we will try to have regular meetings online, zoom fatigue be damned. The format will be the same as usual: presentation of no more than an hour, a short break, then moderated questions for one hour.
The schedule for Summer 2020 is posted below; if you are interested in giving a presentation in the fall, please send an abstract to email@example.com by August 3.
Summer 2020 Schedule
Wednesday, July 1, 3:00-5:00 p.m. EDT
Justin Khoo, “The probabilities of subjunctive conditionals”
I motivate a theory that predicts nontrivial probabilities for subjunctive conditionals on which (roughly) their probabilities go by our expectation of randomly selecting a consequent-world from their antecedent-restricted domains. I show how the theory predicts the surprising observation that coming to believe a subjunctive conditional sometimes requires ruling out more than just those possibilities in which it is false. I also show how the theory motivates responses to two recent triviality results.
Wednesday, July 22, 3:00-5:00 p.m. EDT
Yael Sharvit, “In defense of concept generators”
It is argued in Lederman (2019) that a sentence such as Plato knew/believed that Hesperus was Phosphorus is assigned truth conditions that are too weak by the concept-generator theory of ‘de re’ attitude reports of Percus & Sauerland (2003). I defend the concept-generator theory by questioning some of the assumptions underlying Lederman’s argument.
Wednesday, August 12, 3:00-5:00 p.m. EDT
Craige Roberts, “The character of epistemic modality”
I assume a central thesis about Modal Auxiliaries due to Kratzer, roughly as follows:
THE MODAL BASE PRESUPPOSITION: Natural language expressions that contain a modal component in their meaning, including all English modal auxiliaries and Epistemic Modal Auxiliaries (EMA)s in particular, presuppose a modal base, a function that draws from context a relevant set of propositions which contribute to a premise-semantics for the modal.
Accepting this thesis for EMAs leaves open (at least) the following two questions about the meaning of English EMAs like must and might:
i. What constraints, if any, are there on the character of the premise set for an EMA?
ii. What is the nature of the relationship between premises and conclusion that is required for truth of the EMA statement?
I argue for at least a partial answer to (i), with two hypotheses about constraints on the modal base for an EMA:
EVIDENTIALITY: The modal base for an EMA is evidential and doxastic, not truly epistemic. Thus, an EMA is weak, not strong, pace von Fintel & Gillies (.2010).
INDEXICALITY: EMAs, unlike some other types of modals, are indexical: They are anchored to an agent-at-a-time whose doxastic state is currently under discussion in the context of utterance.
These constraints are modeled as presuppositions triggered by the EMA, restrictions on the modal base which will determine the modal’s domain. The indexical anchoring (a) correctly predicts the contextually limited range of candidates for the anchoring agent of such a modal, as attested in the literature, and (b) thereby constrains what body of evidence is understood to be relevant (that of the anchor). The account sheds light on several puzzles, including (c) purported arguments for modal relativism (e.g., Egan, Hawthorne & Weatherson 2005), and (d) Yalcin’s (2007) version of Moore’s paradox for embedded epistemic modals.