On the Legacy of the Imperfective Paradox, by Ashley Atkins
      Comments by Kate Ritchie

The earliest motivation for modal accounts of the progressive came from an entailment pattern known as the imperfective paradox. In short, the challenge was to account for the fact that there is no entailment from a progressive sentence such as 'Mary was crossing the street' to its non-progressive counterpart, 'Mary crossed the street.' David Dowty, who developed the first modal account of the progressive and used this pattern against its non-modal rivals, claimed that verb phrases such as 'cross the street' invariably characterize complete events. From there, it was a short step to a modal account; if there's a completed crossing somewhere other than the actual world, it would seem to have to be in a possible one. But why did he make that claim? It was and has been denied by non-modal theorists since who observe that 'cross the street' doesn't characterize a complete event in other settings (e.g., Mary began to cross the street). In this paper, I'll argue that there is an insight to be articulated here that it is missed by this response. The insight is that progressives like 'Mary is crossing the street' are understood with reference to an end. The mistake is to think that this insight has to be made sense of, as Dowty assumed, in terms of the realization of an end. As I'll discuss, the difficulty is to make sense of reference to an end in other terms and to come to diagnose the persistent tendency to think that it cannot be understood in other terms, whether this is encouraged in the pursuit of certain misleading analogies between events in progress and their completed counterparts and parts of objects and their wholes or whether one is gripped by this way of thinking in pursuing the more promising analogy between progressive aspect and present tense.

Grading Modal Judgment, by Nate Charlow
      Comments by Simon Charlow

This paper offers a model of graded modal judgment. It begins by showing why the phenomenon is so theoretically vexing: given plausible constraints on the logic of epistemic modality, it is actually impossible to model graded attitudes toward modal claims as judgments/ascriptions of probability to modalized propositions. In response to this problem, this paper considers two alternative models, on which modal operators are non-proposition-forming operators: (1) Moss (2015), in which graded attitudes toward modal claims are represented as judgments/ascriptions of probability to a "proxy" proposition, belief in which would underwrite belief in the modal claim. (2) A model on which graded attitudes toward modal claims are represented as judgments/ascriptions of credence to a (non-propositional) modal representation (rather than a proxy proposition). The second model is shown to be both semantically and mathematically tractable—a feature which does not ultimately distinguish it from Moss (2015). The second model, however, is easily integrated into our ordinary understanding of the functional role of graded attitudes toward modal claims (in both cognition and normative epistemology)—something that, I argue, represents a positive contrast with the account of Moss (2015).

Agential Free Choice, by Melissa Fusco
      Comments by Daniel W. Harris

The Free Choice effect --- whereby ♢(p or q) seems to entail both ♢p and ♢q --- has long described as a phenomenon affecting the deontic "may''. In this talk, I explore how to extend the theory of deontic free choice I defended in Fusco (2015) to the agentive modal "can". This is the use of "can" which describes an agent's powers, independent of normative or informational constraints on her acts. I'll be picking up on recent work on these constructions by Mandelkern, Schultheis, and Boylan (2017) and Horty and Belnap (1995). Getting an assist from some new experimental data, I will argue that free choice for deontic and agential phenomena, while distinct, are related in a natural way. Putting them side-by-side with respect to free choice behavior opens a new window onto the unity and diversity in natural language modality.

A Defense of Structured Propositions, by Thomas Hodgson
      Comments by Eliot Michaelson

Propositions are abstract objects which represent, and are about some things. I argue that, even if representation is primitive, as Trenton Merricks has claimed, aboutness can be explained given the assumption that propositions are complex, structured objects. Therefore, I propose, anybody who thinks that propositions represent and are about some things should accept that propositions are structured. In the course of making this argument I reject the claim that a proposition is always about the very things that it represents to be some way. My argument relies on a controversial but defensible premise about the existence and nature of names for propositions.

Conventions as Effective Agreements, by Marija Jankovic
      Comments by Alexander Dinges

We engage in a variety of collective intentional actions with members of social groups we belong to. A lot of these actions exploit a kind of a shared understanding of how to perform a certain collective action. This is sometimes simply the knowledge of what it is to perform a certain type of collective action (like dance the tango or play tennis). But sometimes it is a group-specific understanding of how we (members of the group) go about performing a certain collective intentional action. This kind of group-specific shared understanding is needed when a group needs to coordinate on a unique way perform a certain collective intentional action. In the first part of paper, I describe a structure of attitudes, which I call effective agreement, that exists when members of a group have this kind of shared understanding. I argue that effective agreements underlie ways of behaving that are social, arbitrary, stable, and symmetrical. These are the central features of social conventions as understood by David Lewis in his 1969. But effective agreement is neither necessary nor sufficient for a Lewisian convention. Importantly, it does not require that parties to a convention have common knowledge of past conformity or of each other’s preferences. It thus represents an overlooked yet ubiquitous kind of convention. In the second part, I sketch an account of rudimentary meaning conventions as effective agreements. I argue that it is possible (in fact, typical) to have linguistic conventions that are not commonly known, for example, when we engage in linguistic innovation. Thus, it is better to model linguistic conventions as effective agreements rather than Lewisian conventions. I conclude with a rough sketch of a new understanding of the social and public character of language motivated by this picture of linguistic conventions.

Narrative, Ritual, and Social Construction, by Rachel McKinney
      Comments by Rachel Sterken

Philosophers of language interested in politics have recently had much to say on discourses like slurs, generics, propaganda, hate speech, dogwhistles, silencing, gaslighting, and epistemic injustice. Curiously absent from this literature has been sustained inquiry into the structural and performative foundation of such discourses in narrative and ritual — i.e. symbolic structures that dramatize social relations for audiences to join as participants in a world of contending forces and thereby produce, maintain, repair, and transform social relations. A focus on narrative and ritual is necessary for understanding the circulation and efficacy of discourses that configure not just in group/out group relations and hierarchical relations but — crucially — the friend/enemy relation.

Drawing on work from sociology, anthropology, linguistics, and political science I describe three key mechanisms of narrative — the sequencing of events into a plot that frames conflict and a ‘lesson’ that informs action, the characterization of ambiguous forces and participants as personalized antagonists (in particular as enemies), and public subjunctive representation that re/configures the social relations it represents. I argue that the circulation of narratives treated as ‘too good to be false’ — i.e. urban legends, conspiracy theories, fake news, moral panics — help to configure the very social relations of friend/enemy (mis)represented therein.

On Some Alleged Empirical Problems for Predicativism, by Matt Moss
      Comments by David Pereplyotchik

We examine the felicity of names in constructions involving the verbs consider and find, coordinating conjunction, and appositional conjunction. These data, as presented in Coppock and Beaver (2015), are prima facie evidence against predicativism about names, the view that names always have a predicate-type semantic value. We argue, contra Coppock and Beaver, that the data pose no challenge to predicativism. We first argue that the fact thatconsider and find are subjective attitude verbs explains why names are often, though not always, infelicitous in these constructions regardless of their semantic type. We then argue that the most popular version of predicativism, the-predicativism, correctly predicts the conjunction data, on the supposition the name is interpreted referentially. Finally, we argue that since predicativism treats names as count nouns, the view predicts their infelicity in every one of the cases Coppock and Beaver present, on the supposition the name is interpreted predicatively.

What is Contemporary Fake News?, by Jessica Pepp
      Comments by Elmar Unnsteinsson

The term "fake news" ascended rapidly to prominence in 2016 and has become a fixture in academic and public discussions, as well as in political mud-slinging. In the flurry of discussion, the term has been applied so broadly as to threaten to render it meaningless. In an effort to rescue our ability to discuss—and combat—the underlying phenomenon that triggered the present use of the term, some philosophers have tried to characterize it more precisely. (e.g. Gelfert 2018, Mukerji ms, Rini 2017.) A common theme in this nascent philosophical discussion is that contemporary fake news is not a new kind of phenomenon, but just the latest iteration of a broader kind of phenomenon that has played out in different ways across the history of human information-dissemination technologies. We argue that although there is continuity between contemporary fake news and earlier, offline journalistic fakery, the former also marks the beginning of a truly different phenomenon. Recent accounts portray contemporary fake news as a technologically advanced form of intentionally or knowingly creating and spreading misleading, news-imitating stories. We suggest that contemporary fake news is more perspicuously seen as a technologically primitive form of automated, targeted media creation and propagation, for which people's intentions to mislead or beliefs about likely deception are inessential.

Fiction, Non-fiction, and Derived Contexts, by Andreas Stokke
      Comments by Brian Ball

1. Introduction

In the tradition from Stalnaker (1999 [1970]), (1999 [1988]), (1999 [1998]), (2002), (2014) a discourse is seen as proceeding against a background of contextually shared information, called the common ground of the conversation, that is, the information taken for granted by the partici- pants. The common ground of a conversation plays two main roles. On the one hand, utterances have the goal of adding to, or updating, the shared background information. Call this the storage role of common ground. On the other hand, common ground information is used to support various context-sensitive aspects of utterances. Call this the support role of common ground.

This paper explores the idea that discourses often rely on more than one type of background information. In many cases, discourses take place in the setting of more than one common ground. Specifically, I argue that various forms of fictions can be understood as interacting with such alternative common grounds both as storage and support. I consider two types. First, the familiar kind of fictions found in novels, movies, plays, and so on. Second, I consider some ways in which speakers sometimes use fictional scenarios for non-fictional purposes in factual conversations.

2. Derived Contexts

Stalnaker (1999 [1988]), (2014), Heim (1992), and others, have proposed that a range of embed- ding phenomena – including conditionals and attitude ascriptions – be analyzed in terms of derived, or local, contexts.

Familiarly, we can represent common ground information as a set of possible worlds, called the context set, comprising the set of possible worlds compatible with it – formally, the set of worlds w such that for each proposition p in the common ground, p is true at w. Given this, the support role of common ground extends to providing a set of worlds that propositions distinguish between.

An embedding construction like a believes that p expresses a proposition, say b, that depends on the embedded proposition p. But since what a believes might depart from what the speaker and other participants take for granted, p is seen as distinguishing between a set of worlds that is disjoint from the basic common ground.

3. Fictions

In this paper I argue that some forms of fictional discourse are plausibly seen as likewise interacting with some forms of derived contexts. First, I argue that, during the telling or hearing or watching of a fictional story, a derived, or subordinate, context develops in a way similar to how basic common ground information evolves during ordinary conversations. This fictional common ground plays both a storage and a support role. In particular, information that is taken to be part of the story can be used to support presuppositions.

Second, I argue that certain ways in which speakers sometimes use fictional scenarios for non-fictional purposes can be understood in this framework. For example, when explaining the beliefs of strict Calvinists, one might say,

(1) You and I are just fallen beings, predestined by God for salvation or eternal damnation.

I will argue that utterances like (1) are proposals to update derived contexts, in this case representing the beliefs of the strict Calvinists. In turn, such derived contexts can support subsequent utterances – e.g., one can felicitously presuppose the information it includes.

I will show that this kind of derived context can interact with the basic common ground in that information can be exported to be included in the official common ground information. Crudely, participants might export from the derived context associated with (1) that the strict Calvinists believed in predestination. This explains how fictional scenarios can be used for non- fictional purposes.

Moreover, I present data to show that fictional derived contexts, of both kinds, sometimes play the support role for utterances that are proposed as updates of basic common ground information, and vice versa. The conclusion will be that, in many cases, discourses fluently navigate between more than one kind of background information with the purpose of facilitating com- munication.

Building Character, by Jack Woods (joint work with Eliot Michaelson)
      Comments by Anders Schoubye

Kaplan claimed that both expressions and sentences had characters, or context-invariant meanings. Relatively little attention has been paid to the question of how to build these complex, sentential characters from simpler ones, however, and this has engendered some confusion regarding what complex characters might be like and what sorts of explanatory roles they might play. We aim to allay any confusions by introducing a formal model of character that allows for composition of various degrees of strength. Then we discuss how these composed sentential characters can help us to model an interesting notion of partial understanding, in addition to some properties of invariants.

Presupposing Counterfactuality, by Julia Zakkou
      Comments by Nat Hansen

What distinguishes counterfactual conditionals from other conditionals? The arguably most immediate and most simple answer has it that they presuppose the falsity of their antecedents. That is, with them, the speaker always conveys that the antecedent is counter to the facts. Both among philosophers and linguists, however, there is by now long standing and broad consensus that the presupposition view cannot be upheld, neither for non-past subjunctive ('would') conditionals nor for past subjunctive ('would have') conditionals. If the speaker of either counterfactual conveys the falsity of the antecedent at all, she conversationally implicates it. In this paper, I shall examine the two most prominent arguments for the claim that not even past subjunctive conditionals presuppose the falsity of their antecedents: Anderson's argument featuring sentences such as 'If Jones had taken arsenic, he would have shown the same symptoms he actually shows' and Stalnaker's modus tollens argument. I will argue that neither of them is conclusive. I will thus show that we can hold on to the presupposition view for past subjunctives. This is relevant for ongoing debates about conditionals not only because it suggests that there is a clearly defined class of true counterfactuals, but also because it suggests that there might well be a deep difference between indicative and subjunctive conditionals.