A formal analysis of relevance

Erkenntnis 49 (2):137-173 (1998)
Abstract
We investigate the notion of relevance as it pertains to ‘commonsense’, subjunctive conditionals. Relevance is taken here as a relation between a property (such as having a broken wing) and a conditional (such as birds typically fly). Specifically, we explore a notion of ‘causative’ relevance, distinct from ‘evidential’ relevance found, for example, in probabilistic approaches. A series of postulates characterising a minimal, parsimonious concept of relevance is developed. Along the way we argue that no purely logical account of relevance (even at the metalevel) is possible. Finally, and with minimal restrictions, an explicit definition that agrees with the postulates is given.
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