Modality and context dependence

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This paper argues that the analysis of modality in terms of generalized quantification falls short on three issues. First it is shown that such an analysis encounters serious problems when it come to deontic modality. Second I will show that the standard analysis makes false predictions by allowing unwanted combinations of modal items. Third I will argue that the data from Lillooet challenges the position that modality should be analyzed across the board as the interaction of a neutral operator with an externally provided intensional context. Finally I will sketch a solution to those problems within the framework of update semantics. I will propose a polysemous treatment of modality where each modality type (epistemic, deontic and circumstantial) has a distinct meaning.


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