In this paper, we explore semantics for comparative epistemic modals that avoid the entailment problems shown by Yalcin (2006, 2009, 2010) to result from Kratzer’s (1991) semantics. In contrast to the alternative semantics presented by Yalcin and Lassiter (2010, 2011) based on finitely additive measures, we introduce semantics based on qualitatively additive measures, as well as semantics based on purely qualitative orderings, including orderings on propositions derived from orderings on worlds in the tradition of Kratzer (1991, 2012). All of these semantics avoid the entailment problems that result from Kratzer’s semantics. Our discussion focuses on methodological issues concerning the choice between different semantics.
Epistemic closure has been a central issue in epistemology over the last forty years. According to versions of the relevant alternatives and subjunctivist theories of knowledge, epistemic closure can fail: an agent who knows some propositions can fail to know a logical consequence of those propositions, even if the agent explicitly believes the consequence (having “competently deduced” it from the known propositions). In this sense, the claim that epistemic closure can fail must be distinguished from the fact that agents do not always believe, let alone know, the consequences of what they know—a fact that raises the “problem of logical omniscience” that has been central in epistemic logic.
This paper, part I of II, is a study of epistemic closure from the perspective of epistemic logic. First, I introduce models for epistemic logic, based on Lewis’s models for counterfactuals, that correspond closely to the pictures of the relevant alternatives and subjunctivist theories of knowledge in epistemology. Second, I give an exact characterization of the closure properties of knowledge according to these theories, as formalized. Finally, I consider the relation between closure and higher-order knowledge. The philosophical repercussions of these results and results from part II, which prompt a reassessment of the issue of closure in epistemology, are discussed further in companion papers.
As a contribution to modal logic, this paper demonstrates an alternative approach to proving modal completeness theorems, without the standard canonical model construction. By “modal decomposition” I obtain completeness and other results for two non-normal modal logics with respect to new semantics. One of these logics, dubbed the logic of ranked relevant alternatives, appears not to have been previously identified in the modal logic literature. More broadly, the paper presents epistemology as a rich area for logical study.
This chapter argues that epistemologists should replace a “standard alternatives” picture of knowledge, assumed by many fallibilist theories of knowledge, with a new “multipath” picture of knowledge. The chapter first identifies a problem for the standard picture: fallibilists working with this picture cannot maintain even the most uncontroversial epistemic closure principles without making extreme assumptions about the ability of humans to know empirical truths without empirical investigation. The chapter then shows how the multipath picture, motivated by independent arguments, saves fallibilism from this problem. The multipath picture is based on taking seriously the idea that there can be multiple paths to knowing some propositions about the world. An overlooked consequence of fallibilism is that these multiple paths to knowledge may involve ruling out different sets of alternatives, which should be represented in a fallibilist picture of knowledge. The chapter concludes by considering inductive knowledge and strong epistemic closure from this multipath perspective.
In this paper, I argue for a solution to the surprise exam paradox, designated student paradox, and variations theoreof, based on an analysis of the paradoxes using modal logic. The solution to the paradoxes involves distinguishing between two setups, the Inevitable Event and the Promised Event, and between the two-day and n-day cases of the paradoxes. For the Inevitable Event, the problem in the two-day case is the assumption that the student knows the teacher’s announcement; for more days, the student can know the announcement, and the base case of the student’s backward induction is correct, but there is a mistake in the induction step. For the Promised Event, even the base case is questionable. After defending this analysis, I argue that it also leads to a solution to a modified version of the surprise exam paradox, due to Ayer and Williamson, based on the idea of a conditionally expected exam.
The standard topological representation of a Boolean algebra via the clopen sets of a Stone space requires a nonconstructive choice principle, equivalent to the Boolean Prime Ideal Theorem. In this paper, we describe a choice-free topological representation of Boolean algebras. This representation uses a subclass of the spectral spaces that Stone used in his representation of distributive lattices via compact open sets. It also takes advantage of Tarski’s observation that the regular open sets of any topological space form a Boolean algebra. We prove without choice principles that any Boolean algebra arises from a special spectral space X via the compact regular open sets of X; these sets may also be described as those that are both compact open in X and regular open in the upset topology of the specialization order of X, allowing one to apply to an arbitrary Boolean algebra simple reasoning about regular opens of a separative poset. Our representation is therefore a mix of Stone and Tarski, with the two connected by Vietoris: the relevant spectral spaces also arise as the hyperspace of nonempty closed sets of a Stone space endowed with the upper Vietoris topology. This connection makes clear the relation between our point-set topological approach to choice-free Stone duality, which may be called the hyperspace approach, and a point-free approach to choice-free Stone duality using Stone locales. Unlike Stone’s representation of Boolean algebras via Stone spaces, our choice-free topological representation of Boolean algebras does not show that every Boolean algebra can be represented as a field of sets; but like Stone’s representation, it provides the benefit of a topological perspective on Boolean algebras, only now without choice. In addition to representation, we establish a choice-free dual equivalence between the category of Boolean algebras with Boolean homomorphisms and a subcategory of the category of spectral spaces with spectral maps. We show how this duality can be used to prove some basic facts about Boolean algebras.
In this paper, we tell a story about incompleteness in modal logic. The story weaves together a paper of van Benthem , “Syntactic aspects of modal incompleteness theorems,” and a longstanding open question: whether every normal modal logic can be characterized by a class of completely ad- ditive modal algebras, or as we call them, V-BAOs. Using a first-order reformulation of the property of complete additivity, we prove that the modal logic that starred in van Benthem’s paper resolves the open question in the negative. In addition, for the case of bimodal logic, we show that there is a naturally occurring logic that is incomplete with respect to V-BAOs, namely the provability logic GLB [Japaridze, 1988, Boolos, 1993]. We also show that even logics that are unsound with respect to such algebras do not have to be more complex than the classical propositional calculus. On the other hand, we observe that it is undecidable whether a syntactically defined logic is V-complete. After these results, we generalize the Blok Dichotomy [Blok, 1978] to degrees of V-incompleteness. In the end, we return to van Benthem’s theme of syntactic aspects of modal incompleteness.