Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Arts

Major

Philosophy

Date of Defense

7-17-2009

Graduate Advisor

Berit Brogaard, Ph.D.

Committee

Gualtiero Piccinini

Jon McGinnis

Abstract

The last few years have seen a growing interest in the semantic analysis of epistemic modal claims. By my lights, the most appealing analysis of epistemic modals is the relativistic approach. However, in their paper, “CIA Leaks”, Kai von Fintel and Anthony Gillies present some problems they think the relativistic approach must explain. I aim to defend a variation on the relativistic analysis of epistemic modals. I argue that when we determine the truth-value of sentences containing epistemic modals, we are free to evaluate modal claims from contexts other than the standard context of utterance. This freedom to evaluate the modal claims from different contexts is what I call contextual projection. When contextual projection takes place the sentence can be either true or false, appropriate or inappropriate. Furthermore, I will argue that the general phenomenon that is contextual projection is a common occurrence observable in ordinary language use.

Share

COinS