Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 835–849 | Cite as

An Update on Epistemic Modals

  • Malte WillerEmail author


Epistemic modals—modals that express what, in light of some body of information, might or must be the case—are a prominent topic in the literature on natural language semantics, with wide-ranging implications for issues in philosophy of language and philosophical logic. Considerations about the role that epistemic might and must play in discourse and reasoning have led to the development of several important alternatives to classical possible worlds semantics for natural language modal expressions. This classical approach, going back to the seminal work by Kratzer, treats epistemic modals as existential or universal quantifiers over a set of possible worlds projected from a contextually salient body of evidence. So if c is a context of utterance and wW is a world of evaluation, the interpretation function for epistemic might looks as follows (as usual, treat might and must as duals):
$$[{\kern-2.3pt}[ \diamondsuit \phi ]{\kern-2.3pt}] ^{c,w} = 1 \text{iff}\ \exists v:~...


Epistemic modals Update semantics Information-sensitivity 



For comments and discussion, I would like to thank Chris Kennedy, Peter Klecha, Seth Yalcin, and the participants of the University of Chicago Workshop in Semantics and Philosophy of Language.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyThe University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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