Modality and Temporality

Cleo Condoravdi, Stefan Kaufmann
2005 Journal of Semantics  
The present collection addresses a number of issues in the semantic interpretation of modal and temporal expressions. Despite the variety the papers exhibit both in the selection of topics and the choice of formal frameworks, they are interconnected through several overarching themes that are at the centre of much ongoing research. The purpose of this brief introduction is to put the papers into context and draw the reader's attention to some of these connections. The topics we will discuss in
more » ... he remainder are: counterfactuals, causality, partiality, compositionality of conditionals, and context dependence. COUNTERFACTUALS Any theory of counterfactuals has to grapple with the fact that judgments about their truth or falsehood cannot be explained in terms of logical relations alone. Invariably, such judgments appear to draw on additional assumptions about non-logical dependencies between facts or propositions. This gives rise to some of the hardest problems in the theory of conditionals: What is the nature of these relations between facts or propositions? Are they all of one kind, or are different relations relevant for different counterfactuals? Can they be analysed without circular reference to counterfactuals? And just how much of this additional information needs to be incorporated into the formal semantic theory? The most prominent semantic approach to counterfactuals is ordering semantics, developed by Stalnaker (1968) and Lewis (1973b) . Both authors were concerned with providing a logical theory of the special inferential relationships between counterfactuals, a purpose for which the classical Fregean material conditional is famously inadequate. Ignoring differences in detail, both rely on a model theory in which a notion of similarity between possible worlds plays a central role. For instance, the truth value of (1a) at a world at which the match was not scratched is determined by the truth value of its consequent at the most similar world(s) at which it was.
doi:10.1093/jos/ffh030 fatcat:be2d3avvcrbuzjcs3g4uw2ymz4