February 10: Peet Klecha

The Semantics and Philosophy of Language Workshop is happy to welcome Peet Klecha (Chicago, grad student) for this term’s third talk.

DATE: February 10, 2012
TIME: 11:30-1:30pm
PLACE: Gates Blake 321

Modals, Conditionals, and Imprecision

This paper proposes that the interpretation of modals is subject to (im)precision (a la Lasersohn 1999), explaining certain contextual domain shifting effects observed by Lewis (1979).

Bryan: This must be a pen – I’m looking right at it.
Alice: Not so; you could be the victim of a deceiving demon.

I argue that Alice raises the standard of precision in (1), thereby widening the domain of `have to’ to include otherwise ignorable worlds. This explains a number of similarities between domain shifting of the type in (1) and canonical cases of
imprecision, and simplifies the modal semantics. I will also extend the analysis to conditionals, accounting for so-called Sobel Sequences.