The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LFRG 4/15: Igor Yanovich on counterfactual de re

WHO: Igor Yanovich
WHAT: On counterfactual de re attitudes
WHEN: April 15, 2:00PM-3:15PM
WHERE: 32-D831

Descriptivist approaches to de re attitudes (Kaplan, Lewis, and numerous linguistic accounts) analyze a de re belief as involving a vivid description which 1) is true of the res in the actual world, and 2) uniquely identifies some object corresponding to the res in the epistemic alternatives of the believer.

This works fine for de re belief, but as Ninan 2010 points out, does not quite work for counterfactual attitudes. If Janell imagines the man she sees sneaking around (that is, Ortcutt) flying a kite in the Alpes, the description selecting Ortcutt in the actual world (namely, smth. like “the man Janell sees sneaking around”) will not be true of the man Janell imagines in her imagination worlds: he cannot be sneaking around and flying the kite at the same time, yet this is what simplistic descriptivist analysis predicts. Ninan himself tries to solve the problem, but his account does not quite succeed.

In the talk, I will give another account of counterfactual de re. The main idea is that the selection of the correspondent of the res in counterfactual attitude worlds is parasitic on the beliefs of the attitude holder.


4/22 Sarah Ouwayda
4/29 Eva Csipak
5/06 Alan Bale
5/11 Ciro Greco