Friday January 16: Alda Mari and Anastasia Giannakidou

January 13th, 2015

We are kicking off the winter quarter with a joint presentation by Anastasia Giannakidou (University of Chicago) and Alda Mari (Institut Jean Nicod).

SPEAKERS: Anastasia Giannakidou and Alda Mari
TITLE: ‘The future in Greek and Italian: metaphysical and epistemic dimensions’
DATE: Friday 1/16
LOCATION: Rosenwald 208
TIME: 11:30 am – 1:20 pm


While the question of whether future morphemes in languages denote temporal or modal operators has been central in formal semantics, most analyses agree that such morphemes convey modality, and do not simply make reference to future times. The modality is often assumed to be purely metaphysical (e.g. Thomason 1984, Kaufmann, 2005). In this paper, we present novel data from Greek and Italian showing a systematic availability of purely epistemic readings with the future morphemes (FUT) alongside the predictive readings. We propose a fully Kratzerian account (following closely Portner 2009), and argue for a common semantic core. FUT is nonveridical in both cases: the modal space is partitioned into p and ¬p worlds, and FUT universally quantifies over the Best p worlds established by the ordering sources, which are reasonability and knowledge relevant to the sentence (called the future criterion). With universal quantification over Best worlds an underlying bias is revealed towards those worlds; therefore in our analysis the future is both weak (nonveridical metaphysical and epistemic space) and strong, because of the bias. Our analysis enriches the metaphysical modality of the future with epistemic components, captures the common core of the predictive and epistemic FUT, and provides simple tools for dealing both with the novel facts of Greek and Italian, as well as apparent Moore paradoxical effects observed with future expressions and MUST.

If you’d like to read the paper (and some further background reading), here are links:
The Future in Greek and Italian: metaphysical and epistemic dimensions
Biased modality and epistemic weakness with the future and MUST: non veridicality, partial knowledge

Friday November 12: Mandy Simons

November 18th, 2014

This week we are very pleased to have Mandy Simons (Carnegie-Mellon University) here to present a paper on the semantics of questions.

SPEAKER: Mandy Simons (Carnegie-Mellon, Philosophy)
TITLE: “How Questions and Answers Cohere”
DATE: Friday 11/21
TIME: 11:30 to 1:20
LOCATION: Rosenwald 208

You can download the abstract here.

Linguistics and Philosophy Workshop: Fall Quarter

October 4th, 2014

Check out our schedule for the Fall Quarter, which (so far) includes talks by Fabrizio Cariani and Mandy Simons! This our second year of focusing on the theme of information sensitivity.

Friday May 23: Malte Willer

May 21st, 2014

This Friday we are pleased to welcome our very own Malte Willer (University of Chicago, philosophy), who will be presenting a new approach to indicative Sobel sequences!

Speaker: Malte Willer
Title: Another Case For Dynamic Conditionals
Date: Friday 5/23
Time: 11:30 to 1:20
Location: Social Sciences 401


Folklore has it that Sobel sequences favor a variably strict analysis of conditionals over its plainly strict alternative. While recent discussions for or against the lore have focussed on (reverse) Sobel sequences involving subjunctive conditionals, I here draw attention to the fact that indicative Sobel sequences are just as felicitous as their subjunctive cousins. The fact, or so I will argue, proves problematic for the classical view: given minimal assumptions about the semantics and pragmatics of indicative conditionals, a variably strict analysis fails to predict that indicative Sobel sequences are felicitous. A properly dynamic strict analysis of indicatives, in constrast, handles the data with grace, and it can also be extended so that it covers subjunctives. Time permitting, I discuss how the story told here handles reverse Sobel sequences and of how it differs from previous dynamic analyses of conditionals.

Friday May 16: Anthony S. Gillies

May 14th, 2014

Please join us this Friday as we welcome our Spring Quarter White’s Visiting Professor at the Linguistics and Philosophy workshop!

Speaker: Anthony S. Gillies
Title: “What (deontic) ‘hafta’ reveals about preferences”
Date: Friday 5/16
Time: 11:30 to 1:20
Location: Social Sciences 401

Friday May 9: Sarah Moss

May 7th, 2014

This Friday, please join us in welcoming Sarah Moss (University of Michigan, Philosophy)!

Speaker: Sarah Moss
Title: ‘On the Semantics and Pragmatics of Epistemic Vocabulary’
Date: Friday 5/9
Time: 11:30 to 1:20
Location: Social Sciences 401

Friday May 2: Daniel Rothschild

April 29th, 2014

This week, Daniel Rothschild (University College London, Philosophy) will be presenting a new approach to the ‘it might be raining’ problem.

Speaker: Daniel Rothschild
Title: ‘Epistemic Contradictions’
Date: Friday 5/2
Time: 11:30 to 1:20
Location: Social Sciences 401

We look forward to seeing you there!


Yalcin (2007) argued that the infelicity of epistemic contradictions, such as ‘It might be raining but it’s not raining’, cannot be accounted for with the normal pragmatic resources used to handle Moorean paradoxes. To explain the infelicity of epistemic contradictions, Yalcin gave a non-standard semantics for epistemic modals that is in most respects equivalent to Veltman’s (1996) dynamic update semantics. I will show that neither Yalcin nor Veltman’s semantics is adequate to deal with the problem of epistemic contradictions. I present a semantics that can account for them and discuss its implications for the dynamic view of meaning.

Friday April 25: Jonathan Cohen

April 22nd, 2014

This week, Jonathan Cohen (USCD, Philosophy) will be here to present some of his new work on the semantics/pragmatics distinction.

Speaker: Jonathan Cohen
Title: ‘Failure-Free Extrasemantic Content’
Date: Friday 4/25
Time: 11:30 to 1:20
Location: Social Sciences 401

Please join us!

Friday April 4: Michael Glanzberg

March 31st, 2014

Please join us as we welcome Michael Glanzberg for the first meeting of the quarter!

Speaker: Michael Glanzberg
Title: ‘Context Dependence and Discourse Effects in Knowledge Attributions’
Date: Friday 4/4
Time: 11:30 to 1:20
Location: Social Sciences 401

(Note: unless otherwise specified, all further meetings will take place in Social Sciences 401.)

Friday March 13: Anubav Vasudevan

March 13th, 2014

This week, we conclude the Winter Quarter by welcoming our very own Anubav Vasudevan to the workshop!

SPEAKER: Anubav Vasudevan
TITLE: ‘On Two Paradoxes of Information’
DATE: Friday 3/14
TIME: 11:30 to 1:20
LOCATION: Wieboldt 408