Daniel Lassiter

Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Stanford University

Research areas:

Contact: danlassiter [at sign] stanford [dot] edu

Research overview

My research combines formal tools and experimental methods from linguistics and other areas of cognitive science to work toward a unified theory of language understanding as a cognitive phenomenon. I've worked on a variety of topics such as the semantics of modals and degree expressions, the pragmatics of vagueness and presupposition, inductive vs. deductive reasoning, and models of various pragmatic phenomena which treat language understanding as a problem of Bayesian inference. I've argued in various domains that combining logical and probabilistic models not only achieves a desirable theoretical unification but also improved empirical coverage and new theoretical insights.






My book Graded Modality will appear soon with OUP.

Recent & unpublished

Must, knowledge, and (in)directness.
   To appear in Natural Language Semantics.
   [Supercedes my 2014 SALT paper "The weakness of must".]
Linguistic and philosophical considerations on Bayesian semantics
   To appear in M. Chrisman & N. Charlow (eds.), Deontic Modals, OUP.
Graded modality
   Draft of a survey article, 10/3/14.


Embedded implicatures as pragmatic inferences under compositional lexical uncertainty (w/C.Potts, R.Levy, and M.Frank)
   Journal of Semantics. [Preprint] [experiment, data, and model code]
Adjectival vagueness in a Bayesian model of interpretation (w/N.Goodman)
   Synthese. [Journal version]
How many kinds of reasoning? Inference, probability, and natural language semantics (w/N.Goodman)
   Cognition. [preprint]
Probabilistic Semantics and Pragmatics: Uncertainty in Language and Thought (w/N.Goodman)
   Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory — 2nd edition, ed. C. Fox & S. Lappin. [Link to book website]
Unless: An experimental approach (w/Prerna Nadathur)
   Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 2014.
Adjectival modification and gradation
   Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory — 2nd edition, ed. C. Fox & S. Lappin. [Link to book website]


The weakness of must: In defense of a Mantra
   Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 24.
   [Superceded by "Must, knowledge, certainty, and (in)directness".]
Modality, scale structure, and scalar reasoning
   Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. [preprint]
Epistemic comparison, models of uncertainty, and the disjunction puzzle
   Journal of Semantics.


Context, scale structure, and statistics in the interpretation of positive-form adjectives
   Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 23. (w/N.Goodman)
Conditional antecedents provide no evidence for a grammatical theory of scalar implicature
   Draft, 11/19/13. Comments welcome.


Presuppositions, provisos, and probability
   Semantics & Pragmatics 5(2): 1-37.
Quantificational and modal interveners in degree constructions
   Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 22.
Communicating with epistemic modals in stochastic λ-calculus
   Draft, w/N.Goodman. Comments welcome.
How many kinds of reasoning? Inference, probability, and natural language semantics
   Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (w/N.Goodman)


Measurement and Modality: The Scalar Basis of Modal Semantics
    Ph.D. dissertation, NYU Linguistics, 2011 (supervisor: Chris Barker).
Nouwen's puzzle and a scalar semantics for obligations, needs, and desires
   Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 21.
Vagueness as probabilistic linguistic knowledge
    In R. Nouwen et al. (eds.), Vagueness in Communication.
Anaphoric properties of which and the syntax of appositive relatives
    NYU Working Papers in Linguistics.


Gradable epistemic modals, probability, and scale structure
   Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 20, 2010.
The Algebraic Structure of Amounts: Evidence from Comparatives
    In T. Icard & R. Muskens (eds.), Interfaces: Explorations in Logic, Language, and Computation.
Where is the Conflict between Internalism and Externalism? A Reply to Lohndal and Narita
    Biolinguistics 4(3): 138-148.
Explaining a restriction on the scope of the comparative operator
    Penn Working Papers in Linguistics.
Semantic Normativity and Coordination Games: Social Externalism Deflated
    Croatian Journal of Philosophy 10(10): 37-56.


Symmetric Presupposition Satisfaction is Mid-Sentence Presupposition Correction
    Presented at the ESSLLI workshop New Directions in the Theory of Presupposition organized by N. Klinedinst & D. Rothschild.


Semantic Externalism, Language Variation, and Sociolinguistic Accommodation (2008)
    Mind and Language. [PDF]

Edited volume: Daniel Lassiter and Marija Slavkovik (eds). New Directions in Logic, Language, & Computation. Lecture Notes in Computer Science vol. 7415. Springer, 2012 (250pp).