Counterfactuals, correlatives, and disjunction

Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (2):207-244 (2009)
The natural interpretation of counterfactuals with disjunctive antecedents involves selecting from each of the disjuncts the worlds that come closest to the world of evaluation. It has been long noticed that capturing this interpretation poses a problem for a minimal change semantics for counterfactuals, because selecting the closest worlds from each disjunct requires accessing the denotation of the disjuncts from the denotation of the disjunctive antecedent, which the standard boolean analysis of or does not allow (Creary and Hill, Philosophy of Science 43:341–344, 1975; Nute, Journal of Philosophy 72:773–778, 1975; Fine, Mind 84(335):451–458, 1975; Ellis et al. Journal of Philosophical Logic 6:335–357, 1977). This paper argues that the failure to capture the natural interpretation of disjunctive counterfactuals provides no reason to abandon a minimal change semantics. It shows that the natural interpretation of disjunctive counterfactuals is expected once we refine our assumptions about the semantics of or and the logical form of conditionals, and (i) we assume that disjunctions introduce propositional alternatives in the semantic derivation, in line with independently motivated proposals about the semantics of or (Aloni, 2003a; Simons, Natural Language Semantics 13:271–316, 2005; Alonso-Ovalle, Disjunction in Alternative Semantics. PhD thesis, 2006); and (ii) we treat conditionals as correlative constructions, as advocated in von Fintel (1994), Izvorski (Proceedings of NELS 26, 1996), Bhatt and Pancheva (2006), and Schlenker (2004).
Keywords Disjunction  Minimal change semantics for conditionals  Alternative semantics
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10988-009-9059-0
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 15,865
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 30 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
William B. Starr (2014). A Uniform Theory of Conditionals. Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (6):1019-1064.
Kyle Rawlins (2013). Conditionals. Natural Language Semantics 21 (2):111-178.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

76 ( #39,929 of 1,724,889 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

11 ( #59,658 of 1,724,889 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.