Experiments on Aristotle's Thesis: Towards an experimental philosophy of conditionals

The Monist 95 (2):223-240 (2012)
Abstract
Two experiments (N1 = 141, N2 = 40) investigate two versions of Aristotle’s Thesis for the first time. Aristotle’s Thesis is a negated conditional, which consists of one propositional variable with a negation either in the antecedent (version 1) or in the consequent (version 2). This task allows to infer if people interpret indicative conditionals as material conditionals or as conditional events. In the first experiment I investigate between-participants the two versions of Aristotle’s Thesis crossed with abstract versus concrete task material. The modal response for all four groups is consistent with the conditional event and inconsistent with the material conditional interpretation. This observation is replicated in the second experiment. Moreover, the second experiment rules out scope ambiguities of the negation of conditionals. Both experiments provide new evidence against the material conditional interpretation of conditionals and support the conditional event interpretation. Finally, I discuss implications for modeling indicative conditionals and the relevance of this work for experimental philosophy.
Keywords experimental philosophy  conditionals  negation  probability logic  Aristotles' Thesis
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