The Grice Club


The Grice Club

The club for all those whose members have no (other) club.

Is Grice the greatest philosopher that ever lived?

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Thursday, May 10, 2018

H. P. Grice and J. L. Speranza, "Modals and disimplicatures"


We offer an analysis of future morphemes as epistemic operators. The main empirical motivation comes from the fact that future morphemes have systematic purely epistemic readings—not only in Greek and Italian, but also in Dutch, German, and English will. The existence of epistemic readings suggests that the future expressions quantify over epistemic, not metaphysical alternatives. We provide a unified analysis for epistemic and predictive readings as epistemic necessity, and the shift between the two is determined compositionally by the lower tense. Our account thus acknowledges a systematic interaction between modality and tense—but the future itself is a pure modal, not a mixed temporal/modal operator. We show that the modal base of the future is nonveridical, i.e. it includes p and ¬p worlds, parallel to epistemic modals such as must, and present arguments that future morphemes are a category that stands in between epistemic modals and predicates of personal taste. We identify, finally, a subclass of epistemic futures which are ratificational, and argue that will is a member of this class.

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