Modals are monsters: on indexical shift in English

Paolo Santorio


I argue, contra Kaplan, that all English indexicals are shiftable. Starting from a new puzzle involving epistemic conditionals, I propose a semantics that accounts for embeddings of indexicals under non-metaphysical modals like might or believe. The central idea is that indexicals are variables: epistemic and doxastic modals are able to shift them by shifting the value of the assignment function. So all epistemic and doxastic modals turn out to be Kaplanian monsters. I close by arguing that the monstrous account has empirical advantages on the classical semantics for attitudes in the Kaplan tradition, and in particular on the recent version of it proposed by Percus and Sauerland.


indexicality; monsters; modality; attitude reports

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