Daniel Lassiter

Assistant Professor of Linguistics, Stanford University

Research areas:

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.




Current teaching

Minds and Machines (SymSys 1/Psych 35/Linguist 35/Phil 99)


Now in press

  • 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
Pre-final draft (please cite/quote published version)

In progress/etc.

Graded modality
   Draft of a survey article, 10/3/14.


Must, knowledge, and (in)directness.
    Natural Language Semantics. [Preprint]
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. [with C. Qing and N. Goodman]


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] [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]
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, 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).