Most meanings we express belong to large families of variant meanings, among which it would be implausible to suppose that some are much more apt for being expressed than others. This abundance of candidate meanings creates pressure to think that the proposition attributing any particular meaning to an expression is modally plastic: its truth depends very sensitively on the exact microphysical state of the world. However, such plasticity seems to threaten ordinary counterfactuals whose consequents contain speech reports, since it is hard to see how we could reasonably be confident in a counterfactual whose consequent can be true only if a certain very finely tuned microphysical configuration obtains. This essay develops the foregoing puzzle and explores several possible solutions.
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Research Article| July 01 2014
Semantic Plasticity and Speech Reports
The Philosophical Review (2014) 123 (3): 281–338.
Cian Dorr, John Hawthorne; Semantic Plasticity and Speech Reports. The Philosophical Review 1 July 2014; 123 (3): 281–338. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-2683531
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