Measure semantics and qualitative semantics for epistemic modals

Wesley H. Holliday, Thomas F. Icard, III


In this paper, we explore semantics for comparative epistemic modals that avoid the entailment problems shown by Yalcin (2006, 2009, 2010) to result from Kratzer’s (1991) semantics. In contrast to the alternative semantics presented by Yalcin and Lassiter (2010, 2011) based on finitely additive measures, we introduce semantics based on qualitatively additive measures, as well as semantics based on purely qualitative orderings, including orderings on propositions derived from orderings on worlds in the tradition of Kratzer (1991, 2012). All of these semantics avoid the entailment problems that result from Kratzer’s semantics. Our discussion focuses on methodological issues concerning the choice between different semantics.


epistemic modality; measure semantics; finite additivity; qualitative additivity; relative likelihood; qualitative probability; ordering semantics; completeness theorems

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