Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 47, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

Relational Semantics and Domain Semantics for Epistemic Modals

  • Dilip NinanEmail author


The standard account of modal expressions in natural language analyzes them as quantifiers over a set of possible worlds determined by the evaluation world and an accessibility relation. A number of authors have recently argued for an alternative account according to which modals are analyzed as quantifying over a domain of possible worlds that is specified directly in the points of evaluation. But the new approach only handles the data motivating it if it is supplemented with a non-standard account of attitude verbs and conditionals. It can be shown the the relational account handles the same data equally well if it too is supplemented with a non-standard account of such expressions.


Epistemic modals Relational semantics Domain semantics Attitude reports Indicative conditionals 


  1. 1.
    Beaver, D. I. (2001). Presupposition and assertion in dynamic semantics. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Beaver, D. I., & Geurts, B. (2013). Presupposition. In Zalta, E. N. (Ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Fall 2013 edition.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Cooper, R. (1983). Quantification and syntactic theory. Dordrecht: Reidel.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    DeRose, K. (1991). Epistemic possibilities. Philosophical Review, 100(4), 581–605.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dorr, C., & Hawthorne, J. (2013). Embedding epistemic modals. Mind, 122 (488), 867–913.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dowell, J. (2011). A flexible contextualist account of epistemic modals. Philosophers’ Imprint, 14, 1–25.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Egan, A. (2007). Epistemic modals, relativism, and assertion. Philosophical Studies, 133(1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Egan, A., Hawthorne, J., & Weatherson, B. (2005). Epistemic modals in context. In Preyer, G., & Peter, G. (Eds.) Contextualism in Philosophy (pp. 131–168). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Von Fintel, K., & Gillies, A (2008). CIA leaks. Philosophical Review, 117(1), 77–98.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Von Fintel, K., & Gillies, A. (2011). “Might” made right. In Egan, A., & Weatherson, B. (Eds.) Epistemic Modality (pp. 108–130). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Von Fintel, K., & Heim, I. (2011). Intensional semantics lecture notes. Notes for class taught at MIT. Available at:
  12. 12.
    Hacking, I. (1967). Possibility. Philosophical Review, 76(2), 143–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Hintikka, J. (1962). Knowledge and belief. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kaplan, D. (1989). Demonstratives. In Almog, J., Perry, J., & Wettstein, H. (Eds.) Themes from Kaplan (pp. 481–563). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Klinedinst, N., & Rothschild, D. (2012). Connectives without truth tables. Natural Language Semantics, 20, 137–175.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kolodny, N., & MacFarlane, J. (2010). Ifs and oughts. Journal of Philosophy, 107(3), 115–143.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kratzer, A. (1981). The notional category of modality. In Eikmeyer, H.-J., & Rieser, H. (Eds.) Words, Worlds, and Contexts (pp. 38–74). Berlin, New York: Walter de Gruyter and Co.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Kratzer, A. (1991). Modality. In Von Stechow, A., & Wunderlich, D. (Eds.) Semantics: An International Handbook of Contemporary Research (pp. 639–650). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Kratzer, A. (2012). Modals and conditionals. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Lewis, D. K. (1980). Index, context, and content. In Kanger, S., & Öhman, S. (Eds.) Philosophy and Grammar. Reprinted in Lewis 1998, 21-44. (pp. 79–100). Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    MacFarlane, J. (2011). Epistemic modals are assessment-sensitive. In Egan, A., & Weatherson, B. (Eds.) Epistemic Modals (pp. 144–178). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    MacFarlane, J. (2014). Assessment-Sensitivity: Relative Truth and its Applications. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Moss, S. (2015). On the semantics and pragmatics of epistemic vocabulary. Semantics and Pragmatics, 8(5), 1–81.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Ninan, D. (2010). Semantics and the objects of assertion. Linguistics and Philosophy, 33(5), 355–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Ninan, D. (2012). Propositions, semantic values, and rigidity. Philosophical Studies, 158(3), 401–413.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Portner, P. (2009). Modality. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Rabern, B. (2012). Propositions and multiple indexing. Thought, 1(2), 116–124.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Rabern, B. (2013). Monsters in Kaplan’s logic of demonstratives. Philosophical Studies, 164(2), 393–404.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Schaffer, J. (2011). Perspective in taste predicates and epistemic modals. In Egan, A., & Weatherson, B. (Eds.) Epistemic Modality (pp. 179–226). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Schroeder, M. (2015). Attitudes and epistemics. In Expressing Our Attitudes: Explanation and Expression in Ethics, (Vol. 2 pp. 225–256): Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Stephenson, T. (2007). Judge dependence, epistemic modals, and predicates of personal taste. Linguistics and Philosophy, 30, 487–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Veltman, F. (1996). Defaults in update semantics. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 25(3), 221–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Willer, M. (2013). Dynamics of epistemic modality. Philosophical Review, 122 (1), 45–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Yalcin, S. (2007). Epistemic modals. Mind, 116(464), 983–1026.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Yalcin, S. (2011). Nonfactualism about epistemic modality. In Egan, A., & Weatherson, B. (Eds.) Epistemic Modality (pp. 295–332). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. 36.
    Yalcin, S. (2014). Semantics and metasemantics in the context of generative grammar. In Burgess, A., & Sherman, B. (Eds.) Metasemantics (pp. 17–54). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyTufts UniversityMedfordUSA

Personalised recommendations