Daniel Lassiter

Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Stanford University

Research interests: Semantics and pragmatics — especially applications of probability and decision theory to problems in theoretical and experimental linguistics, with a focus on connections to related philosophical, computational, and psychological work.

Contact: danlassiter <|"at sign"|> stanford <|"dot"|> edu

Research overview

My research focuses on theories of meaning and reasoning, and their role in communication. I use logical, computational, and experimental methods to bring together the insights of linguistic semantics & pragmatics with philosophical and psychological work on reasoning and decision making. Much of my work has focused the use of probabilistic models to illuminate linguistic phenomena such as vagueness, presupposition, implicature, and the lexical semantics of modals and conditionals.

Google Scholar profile


Current Teaching

All courses


Order through OUP here.

  • Gradation, scales, and degree semantics
  • Measurement theory and the typology of scales
  • Previous Work on graded modality: Lewis and Kratzer
  • Epistemic adjectives: Likely and Probable
  • Certainty and possibility
  • Implications for the epistemic auxiliaries
  • Scalar goodness
  • Ought and should
(You can also find a pre-final draft here.)


Nested conditionals and genericity in the de Finetti semantics [with J. Baratgin]
     Under review.
Modal language and Bayesian reasoning
     To appear (revised, in two parts) in Language and Linguistics Compass.
Unless, exceptives, and the pragmatics of conditionals [with P. Nadathur]
     Under revision.


What we can learn from how trivalent conditionals avoid triviality
     Inquiry. [Publisher's version]
Representing credal imprecision: From sets of measures to hierarchical Bayesian models
     Philosophical Studies. [Publisher's version]
Causation and probability in indicative and counterfactual conditionals
     Manuscript. (supersedes SALT 27 paper)
Talking about (quasi-)higher-order uncertainty
     In Condoravdi & King (eds.), Tokens of Meaning: Papers in Honor of Lauri Karttunen.
Graded modality
     In Matthewson et al (eds.), Blackwell Companion to Semantics.


Complex sentential operators refute unrestricted Simplification of Disjunctive Antecedents
     Semantics & Pragmatics.
An experimental look at the negative implications of exceptives [with P. Nadathur]
     Proceedings of NELS 48.
What do eye movements in the visual world reflect? A case study from adjectives [w/C. Qing and J. Degen]
     Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society.


Graded Modality: Qualitative and Quantitative Perspectives. Oxford University Press.
     [See above for details]
Adjectival vagueness in a Bayesian model of interpretation [w/N.Goodman]
     Synthese. [Publisher's version] [Model code in WebPPL]
Complex antecedents and probabilities in causal counterfactuals
     Proceedings of the 21st Amsterdam Colloquium.
Probabilistic language in indicative and counterfactual conditionals
     Semantics and Linguistic Theory 27.
Bayes nets and the dynamics of probabilistic language
     Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21.
Review of Y. Winter, Elements of Formal Semantics
     Journal of Linguistics. [Publisher's version]


Must, knowledge, and (in)directness
      Natural Language Semantics. [Publisher's version] [Data and analysis code]
Embedded implicatures as pragmatic inferences under compositional lexical uncertainty [w/C.Potts, R.Levy, and M.Frank]
     Journal of Semantics. [Publisher's version] [experiment, data, and model code]
Linguistic and philosophical considerations on Bayesian semantics
     In M. Chrisman & N. Charlow (eds.), Deontic Modals, OUP.
A rational speech-act model of projective content
     Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. [w/ C.Qing and N.Goodman]


How many kinds of reasoning? Inference, probability, and natural language semantics [w/N.Goodman]
     Cognition. [Publisher's version] [Data, etc.]
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]
Adjectival modification and gradation
     Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory — 2nd edition, ed. C. Fox & S. Lappin. [Link to book website]
Unless: An experimental approach [with P. Nadathur]
     Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 2014.


The weakness of must: In defense of a Mantra
     Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 24.
     [Superseded by "Must, knowledge, and (in)directness", published in Natural Language Semantics in 2016.]
Modality, scale structure, and scalar reasoning
     Pacific Philosophical Quarterly. [Publisher's version]
Epistemic comparison, models of uncertainty, and the disjunction puzzle
     Journal of Semantics. [Publisher's version]


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


Presuppositions, provisos, and probability
     Semantics & Pragmatics.
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.
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
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.


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. [Publisher's version]

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