Papers


2019 Embedded Taste Predicates, Inquiry 34/2, pp 1-22.

2019 Denial and Retraction: A Challenge for Theories of Taste Predicates, Synthese, 196/4, pp 1555-1573.

2018 The Cancellability Test for Conversational Implicatures, Philosophy Compass, 93/3, e12552.

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

2017 Biscuit Conditionals and Prohibited 'then', Thought, 6/2, pp 84-92.

Book

Drafts (available on request)


The Myth of Entailed Conversational Implicatures
Grice famously distinguished between conventional and conversational implicatures. Though similar in several respects, they are often taken to lie on opposing sides of the semantic-pragmatic divide. Conventional implicatures are a semantic phenomenon since they come into existence due to the conventional meaning of the expressions used. Conversational implicatures, in contrast, are pragmatic because they arise due a general expectation of cooperativeness. This classification is challenged by the emerging consensus that there are two kinds of conversational implicatures. There are not only our paradigm conversational implicatures which are semantically independent from the sentence used. There are also conversational implicatures which are semantically entailed by the sentence in question and so not purely pragmatic. In this paper, I will argue that the existence of entailed conversational implicatures is a myth that leads to all kinds of misunderstandings.

Conventional Evaluativity
Some adjectives such as `generous' and `stingy' are used to not only describe the world around us. They are used to also evaluate the things they are applied to. The majority view in metaethics has it that the evaluation is semantically expressed. Väyrynen, however, has recently argued that we should consider it pragmatically conveyed instead. This paper opposes both the majority view and the these days most popular contender. It argues that the evaluation in question is conventionally triggered. In doing so, it shows that the spirit of the majority view can be sustained: the evaluation does belong the the conventional meaning of the respective expressions. It is not a primary meaning, though; it is a secondary meaning as per conventional implicature or semantic presupposition. This result is relevant for various debates in philosophy of language and linguistics. It is particularly interesting, though, for ongoing debates in ethics and metaethics in that it insists that so-called thick terms should have a place at the table of theoretically significant expressions, right besides thin terms.

Presupposing Counterfactuality
There is long standing agreement both among philosophers and linguists that the term `counterfactual conditional' is misleading if not a misnomer. Speakers of both non-past subjunctive (or 'would') conditionals and past subjunctive (or 'would have') conditionals need not convey counterfactuality. The relationship between the conditionals in question and the counterfactuality of their antecedents is thus not one of presupposing. It is one of conversationally implicating. This paper provides a thorough examination of the arguments against the presupposition view as applied to past subjunctive conditionals and finds none of them conclusive. All the relevant linguistic data, it is shown, are compatible with the assumption that past subjunctive conditionals presuppose the falsity of their antecedents. This finding is not only interesting on its own. It is of vital importance both to whether we should consider antecedent counterfactuality to be part of the conventional meaning of the conditionals in question and to whether there is a deep difference between indicative and subjective conditionals.

Varieties of Biscuit Conditionals
It is commonly assumed that there are at least two kinds of indicative conditionals: hypothetical and biscuit conditionals. It is also assumed that there is no analogous distinction within subjunctive conditionals. Subjunctive conditionals, it is generally agreed, are uniformly read hypothetically. In a recent paper, Swanson argues that this is not true: embedded in the contexts of wants and wishes, at least certain subjunctive conditionals are read in a biscuit-like fashion. In this paper, I shall go beyond Swanson's claim. I shall argue that there are indicative biscuit conditionals of four different kinds and that subjunctive versions of all of them can be read as biscuit conditionals, even outside the contexts of wants and wishes.

A Direction Effect on Taste Predicates (with Alexander Dinges)
The recent literature abounds with accounts of the semantics and pragmatics of so-called predicates of personal taste, i.e. predicates whose application is, in some sense or other, a subjective matter. Relativism and contextualism are the major types of theories. The primary difference between these theories concerns how we should assess previous taste claims. Relativism predicts that we should assess them in the light of the taste standard governing the context of assessment. Contextualism predicts that we should assess them in the light of the taste standard governing the context of use. We show in a range of experiments that neither prediction is entirely correct. Which taste standard people choose in evaluating a previous taste claim crucially depend on whether they start out liking the food in question and then come to dislike it or vice versa. We argue first that this direction effect may offer an explanation of why some data supposedly supporting relativism are so controversial. We argue second that no extant theory predicts the effect and go on to suggest what we call hybrid relativism as a possible solution. On this view, sentences of the form 'F is/isn't tasty' are ambiguous between a relativist and a contextualist reading, where the relevant reading is selected by an independently motivated pragmatic principle to interpret speakers as negatively as possible.

Much at Stake in Knowledge (with Alexander Dinges)
Orthodoxy in the contemporary debate on knowledge ascriptions holds roughly that the truth-value of knowledge ascriptions is purely a matter of truth-relevant factors. One widely acknowledged challenge to orthodoxy comes from so-called salient alternative effects on knowledge ascriptions. A much less widely acknowledged challenge to orthodoxy comes from so-called practical factor effects on knowledge ascriptions. There is an emerging consensus that these effects don't exist or at least that they can be reduced to the already familiar salient alternatives effects. Our goal in this paper is to put pressure on this emerging consensus by suggesting a novel experimental paradigm to test practical factor effects. We use this paradigm to show that practical factor effects on knowledge ascriptions exist and cannot be reduced to salient alternative effects.