This paper investigates the prospects for a semantic theory that treats disjunction as a modal operator. Potential motivation for such a theory comes from the way in which modals (and especially, but not exclusively, epistemic modals) embed within disjunctions. After reviewing some of the relevant data, I go on to distinguish a variety of modal theories of disjunction. I analyze these theories by considering pairs of conflicting desiderata, highlighting some of the tradeoffs they must face.
KeywordsDisjunction Epistemic modals Dynamic semantics Partition semantics Context sensitivity
For conversations and exchanges, I thank Melissa Fusco, Hanti Lin, Sarah Moss, Daniel Rothschild, Paolo Santorio, Seth Yalcin.
- Alonso-Ovalle L (2006) Disjunction in alternative semantics. Ph.D. thesis, UMass AmherstGoogle Scholar
- Dorr C, Hawthorne J (forthcoming) Embedding epistemic modals. Mind 1–47 (electronic version) Google Scholar
- Fox D (2007) Free choice and the theory of scalar implicatures. In: Sauerland U, Stateva P (eds) Presupposition and implicature in compositional semantics, pp 71–120 Google Scholar
- Fusco M (forthcoming) Deontic modals and the semantics of choice. Philos Impr Google Scholar
- Geurts B (2005) Entertaining alternatives: disjunctions as modals. Nat Lang Semant 13 Google Scholar
- Kratzer A, Shimoyama J (2002) Indeterminate phrases: the view from Japanese. In: Otsu Y (ed) The proceedings of the third Tokyo conference on psycholinguistics, pp 1–25 (Hituzi Syobo)Google Scholar
- Lin H (ms.) When ‘or’ meets ‘might’: towards acceptability-conditional semantics. Manuscript, University of California, DavisGoogle Scholar
- Moss S (2015) On the semantics and pragmatics of epistemic vocabulary. Semant Pragmat 8(5):1–81Google Scholar
- Roelofsen F (unpublished) Two alternatives for disjunction. Manuscript, University of AmsterdamGoogle Scholar
- Schroeder M (2015) Attitudes and epistemics. In: Expressing our attitudes. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 225–256 Google Scholar
- Silk A (2014) Why ‘ought’ detaches: or, why you ought to get with my friends (if you want to be my lover). Philos Impr 14(7):1–16Google Scholar
- Von Stechow A (1991) Focusing and backgrounding operators. In: Abraham W (ed) Discourse particles: descriptive and theoretical investigations on the logical, syntactic and pragmatic properties of discourse particles in German, vol 6, pp 37–84 (Benjamins)Google Scholar
- Yalcin S (2011) Nonfactualism about epistemic modality. In: Egan A, Weatherson B (eds) Epistemic modality. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar