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Article
Taking ‘Might’-Communication Seriously
Analytic Philosophy (2014)
  • Benjamin Lennertz, Western Kentucky University
Abstract
In this paper, I show that, given seemingly plausible assumptions about the epistemic
‘might’ and conditionals, we cannot explain why in some circumstances it is appropriate to utter
conditional ‘might’-sentences, like “If Angelica has crumbs in her pocket, then she might be the
thief” and not the corresponding simple ones, like “Angelica might be the thief.” So, one of our
assumptions must be incorrect. I argue that the root of the problem is an umbrella thesis about
the pragmatics of ‘might’-communication – one that says that the communicative impact of an
utterance of a ‘might’-sentence is the performance of a consistency check on the information of
the context. I conclude that we must reject this thesis. And I close the paper by sketching an
alternative view about what assertive uses of ‘might’-sentences typically do – one which avoids
the problem. Such uses typically present a possibility as a serious option in reasoning and
deliberation.
Disciplines
Publication Date
2014
DOI
10.1111/phib.12032
Citation Information
Benjamin Lennertz. “Taking ‘Might’-Communication Seriously.” (2014). Analytic Philosophy, 55(2), 176-198.