Publications

2017 Jesus loves you!, Philosophical Studies, 174, pp 237-255.

2017 Biscuit Conditionals and Prohibited 'then', Thought.

Papers (available on request)

Denial and Retraction -- A Challenge for Theories of Predicates of Personal Taste
Sentences containing predicates of personal taste exhibit two striking features: (i) whether they are true seems to lie in the eye of the beholder and (ii) whether they are true can---and often is---subject to disagreement. In the last decade, there has been a lively debate about how to account for these two features. In this paper, I shall argue for two claims: First, I shall show that even the most promising approaches so far offered by proponents of so-called indexical contextualism fail to account for the disagreement feature. They might be able to account for some disagreement data, but they fail to account for two kinds of disagreement data that caused the estrangement from indexical contextualism and the migration to relativism in the first place: the denial and the retraction data. Second, I shall show that we still do not have to abandon indexical contextualism, because what I shall call the superiority approach---a new pragmatically extended version of indexical contextualism---can very well account for the two kinds of data.

Embedded Predicates of Personal Taste -- A Contextualist Perspective
According to individualistic indexical contextualism---a very simple semantics for predicates of personal taste---sentences like 'Licorice is (not) tasty' as assertively used by a speaker in an ordinary conversation express the proposition that licorice is (not) tasty to the speaker. This view has been confronted with several objections. The most prominent one has been rebutted by philosophers who stress the role of pragmatics: pragmatically extended, the thought goes, individualistic indexical contextualism can very well account for faultless disagreements. But there is another, so far underappreciated objection: that individualistic indexical contextualism cannot account for our intuitive assessment of embeddings of sentences containing predicates of personal taste. In particular, it cannot account for the embedding under operators with truth evaluative adverbs such as 'correctly believes that' and 'falsely believes that.' In this paper, I shall critically examine this objection. There indeed is a challenge to individualistic indexical contextualism, I shall argue. For not even pragmatically extended by the popular commonality approach does individualistic indexical contextualism account for the crucial embeddings. Still, the challenge can be met. For given the superiority approach, a new and at least equally plausible pragmatic extension, individualistic indexical contextualism is equipped to do the job.

The Cancellability Test for Conversational Implicatures
Many people follow Grice in thinking that all conversational implicatures are cancellable. And often enough they use this insight as a test for conversational implicatures. If one wants to find out whether something is a conversational implicature, the test goes, one should ask oneself whether the thing in question is cancellable; if one finds that it is not cancellable, one can infer that it is not a conversational implicature; if one finds that it is cancellable, one can infer that it might well be a conversational implicature and conclude that one should now do further testing. Various philosophers and linguists have questioned the test, though. Some have held that Grice's original claim is subject to counterexamples and that the test is therefore prone to failure. Others have argued that even though Grice's claim can be defended against the counterexamples, the test turns out to be useless. In this paper, I shall defend Grice's test. I shall not only argue that given the right view of cancellability all conversational implicatures are cancellable; I shall also show that given this view the test can be usefully applied.

Anderson Conditionals
Current consensus holds that counterfactuals do not presuppose the falsity of the antecedent; if the speaker of a counterfactual conveys the antecedent's falsity at all, she conversationally implicates it. Most people take this to be obvious for non-past subjunctive conditionals; but many people also think this is the case for past subjunctive conditionals. Anderson Conditionals such as 'If Jones had taken arsenic, he would have shown the same symptoms he actually shows' are taken as evidence for this. With these past subjunctive conditionals, it is claimed, the speaker does not convey that the antecedent is false. In this paper, I shall question this argument from Anderson Conditionals. I shall show that it is not at all clear that the speaker does not use them to convey that the antecedent is false.

Tasty Contextualism. A Superiorty Approach to the Phenomenon of Faultless Disagreement (book draft)