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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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On a Shared Property of Deontic and Epistemic Modals

On a Shared Property of Deontic and Epistemic Modals

(p.200) 7 On a Shared Property of Deontic and Epistemic Modals
Deontic Modality

Jessica Rett

Oxford University Press

Epistemic modals encode an evidential restriction, requiring that the speaker have inferential evidence for the prejacent. Stone and von Fintel and Gillies encode this restriction lexically in, e.g., must, which raises the question: what happens to this restriction when must receives a deontic interpretation? To answer this question, Jessica Rett defends the claim that deontic and epistemic modals have in common a requirement that their prejacent be inferred from some premises. Following Lance and Little, she argues that this is a property of moral reasoning quite generally; in epistemic modal bases, it amounts to an inferential evidence requirement. Deontic and epistemic modals form a natural class with respect to this property to the exclusion of other modal bases. This is what prevents their acceptability in certain exclamatives. It also offers insight into why languages like English sometimes lexicalize these two modal bases to the exclusion of others.

Keywords:   deontic modal, epistemic modal, evidentiality, inference, exclamative

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