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Deontic Modality$
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Nate Charlow and Matthew Chrisman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198717928

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198717928.001.0001

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Linguistic and Philosophical Considerations on Bayesian Semantics

Linguistic and Philosophical Considerations on Bayesian Semantics

(p.82) 3 Linguistic and Philosophical Considerations on Bayesian Semantics
Deontic Modality

Daniel Lassiter

Oxford University Press

A “Bayesian” semantics has a number of attractive features involving information-sensitivity, grammatical gradability, and solutions to logical puzzles which plague standard theories of deontic semantics. However, its viability has been questioned by several authors who argue that it is insufficiently expressive empirically or that it builds philosophically suspect assumptions into the semantic theory. These authors have advocated moving instead to a much weaker semantic theory which can express the predictions of the Bayesian theory among many others. Daniel Lassiter surveys here some of the arguments in favor of the Bayesian semantics and responds to objections, arguing that the empirical problems can be addressed, that the philosophical objections are unconvincing, and that, absent compelling empirical arguments, empirical data and methodological considerations favor a strongly predictive theory of deontic semantics over one with much greater expressivity.

Keywords:   deontic modal, decision theory, scalar reasoning, attitude context, philosophy of linguistics

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