Abstract for Yalcin’s talk

Focusing on some curious interactions between epistemic modals and constructions that have traditionally been thought to require the resources of two-dimensional semantics (especially those containing “actually”), I will argue that epistemic modals have distinctive binding properties not shared by other modals, and that the facts here undermine a Kaplan-style conception of the role of context in semantics. I will connect my conclusions to some recent debates about the extent to which natural language contains context-shifting (or diagonalizing, or “monstrous”) operators. I will then explore the bearing of the facts I discuss on the question to what extent natural language modal operators behave semantically like quantifiers.

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