Will done better: Selection semantics, future credence, and indeterminacy

Fabrizio Cariani, Paolo Santorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Statements about the future are central in everyday conversation and reasoning. How should we understand their meaning? The received view among philosophers treats will as a tense: in 'Cynthia will pass her exam', will shifts the reference time forward. Linguists, however, have produced substantial evidence for the view that will is a modal, on a par with must and would. The different accounts are designed to satisfy different theoretical constraints, apparently pulling in opposite directions. We show that these constraints are jointly satisfied by a novel modal account of will. On this account, will is a modal but doesn't work as a quantifier over worlds. Rather, the meaning of will involves a selection function similar to the one used by Stalnaker in his semantics for conditionals. The resulting theory yields a plausible semantics and logic for will and vindicates our intuitive views about the attitudes that rational agents should have towards future-directed contents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-165
Number of pages37
Issue number505
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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