I’m interested in these words because I think that investigating them can shed light on more general features of communication. My work on them has led me to develop constraint semantics, a framework according to which sentences express not propositions but constraints, and a given assertion is like advice to conform to a particular constraint. I think constraint semantics can be fruitfully applied to many of the aspects of our doxastic, affective, and conative lives that we communicate to others.
My work on these words has also led me to develop ordering supervaluationism. Like traditional supervaluationism, ordering supervaluationism handles cases in which some interpretations of an expression are tied for best. But ordering supervaluationism also delivers attractive results when for each of the possible interpretations of an expression, another interpretation is better. I’m currently working out treatments of such cases in semantics, formal epistemology, and metaphysics.
Over the last several years Franz Huber, Jonathan Weisberg, and I organized three Formal Epistemology Festivals, on conditionals and ranking functions, causal decision theory and scoring rules, and learning from experience and defeasible reasoning. Ezra Keshet and I organized an interdisciplinary conference and seminar on discourse constraints on anaphora in 2009.
My son Liem likes kayaking, books about kayaking, and Zoar Gap. His favorite class two rapids for kayaking are Barking Dog and Highway on the South Fork of the American River, and Hangover Helper, Freight Train, Pinball I and II, Krutiak, and Slamdance on the Fife Brook section of the Deerfield River in Massachusetts. He thinks the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum is pretty cool, too.