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The Logic of Conditionals: An Application of Probability to Deductive Logic

Dordrecht, Netherland: D. Reidel Pub. Co. (1996)

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  1. The Ramsey Test and Evidential Support Theory.Michal Sikorski - 2022 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 31 (3):493-504.
    The Ramsey Test is considered to be the default test for the acceptability of indicative conditionals. I will argue that it is incompatible with some of the recent developments in conceptualizing conditionals, namely the growing empirical evidence for the Relevance Hypothesis. According to the hypothesis, one of the necessary conditions of acceptability for an indicative conditional is its antecedent being positively probabilistically relevant for the consequent. The source of the idea is Evidential Support Theory presented in Douven. I will defend (...)
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  • Conditionals and Inferential Connections: Toward a New Semantics.Igor Douven, Shira Elqayam, Henrik Singmann & Janneke van Wijnbergen-Huitink - 2020 - Thinking and Reasoning 26 (3):311-351.
    In previous published research, we investigated experimentally what role the presence and...
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  • Indicative Conditionals Are Material - Expanding the Survey.Matheus Martins Silva - manuscript
    Adam Rieger (2013) has carried out a survey of arguments in favour of the material account of indicative conditionals. These arguments involve simple and direct demonstrations of the material account. I extend the survey with new arguments and clarify the logical connections among them. I also show that the main counter-examples against these arguments are not successful either because their premises are just as counter-intuitive as the conclusions, or because they depend on contextual fallacies. The conclusion is that the unpopularity (...)
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  • Subjunctive Conditionals Are Material.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    The material account claims that indicative conditionals are material. However, the conventional wisdom even among material account enthusiasts is that the material account cannot be extended to subjunctive conditionals. There are mainly three reasons that motivate this consensus: (1) the belief that if subjunctives were material, most subjunctive conditionals would be vacuously true, which is implausible; (2) its inconsistency with Adams pair, which suggest that indicative and subjunctive conditionals have different truth conditions; and (3) the belief that it is an (...)
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  • Directional Bias.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    There is almost a consensus among conditional experts that indicative conditionals are not material. Their thought hinges on the idea that if indicative conditionals were material, A → B could be vacuously true when A is false, even if B would be false in a context where A is true. But since this consequence is implausible, the material account is usually regarded as false. It is argued that this point of view is motivated by the grammatical form of conditional sentences (...)
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  • Making Conditional Speech Acts in the Material Way.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    The conventional wisdom about conditionals claims that (1) conditionals that have non-assertive acts in their consequents, such as commands and promises, cannot be plausibly interpreted as assertions of material implication; (2) the most promising hypothesis about those sentences is conditional-assertion theory, which explains a conditional as a conditional speech act, i.e., a performance of a speech act given the assumption of the antecedent. This hypothesis has far-reaching and revisionist consequences, because conditional speech acts are not synonymous with a proposition with (...)
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  • Coherence of Inferences.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    It is usually accepted that deductions are non-informative and monotonic, inductions are informative and nonmonotonic, abductions create hypotheses but are epistemically irrelevant, and both deductions and inductions can’t provide new insights. In this article, I attempt to provide a more cohesive view of the subject with the following hypotheses: (1) the paradigmatic examples of deductions, such as modus ponens and hypothetical syllogism, are not inferential forms, but coherence requirements for inferences; (2) since any reasoner aims to be coherent, any inference (...)
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  • The Inextricable Link Between Conditionals and Logical Consequence.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    There is a profound, but frequently ignored relationship between the classical notion of logical consequence (formal implication) and material implication. The first repeats the patterns of the latter, but with a wider modal reach. It is argued that this kinship between formal and material implication simply means that they express the same variety of implication, but differ in scope. Formal implication is unrestricted material implication. This apparently innocuous observation has some significant corollaries: (1) conditionals are not connectives, but arguments; (2) (...)
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  • The Big Four - Their Interdependence and Limitations.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    Four intuitions are recurrent and influential in theories about conditionals: the Ramsey’s test, the Adams’ Thesis, the Equation, and the robustness requirement. For simplicity’s sake, I call these intuitions ‘the big four’. My aim is to show that: (1) the big four are interdependent; (2) they express our inferential dispositions to employ a conditional on a modus ponens; (3) the disposition to employ conditionals on a modus ponens doesn’t have the epistemic significance that is usually attributed to it, since the (...)
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  • Credence for conclusions: a brief for Jeffrey’s rule.John R. Welch - 2020 - Synthese 197 (5):2051-2072.
    Some arguments are good; others are not. How can we tell the difference? This article advances three proposals as a partial answer to this question. The proposals are keyed to arguments conditioned by different degrees of uncertainty: mild, where the argument’s premises are hedged with point-valued probabilities; moderate, where the premises are hedged with interval probabilities; and severe, where the premises are hedged with non-numeric plausibilities such as ‘very likely’ or ‘unconfirmed’. For mild uncertainty, the article proposes to apply a (...)
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  • A Characterization of Probability-based Dichotomous Belief Revision.Sven Ove Hansson - 2022 - Studia Logica 110 (2):511-543.
    This article investigates the properties of multistate top revision, a dichotomous model of belief revision that is based on an underlying model of probability revision. A proposition is included in the belief set if and only if its probability is either 1 or infinitesimally close to 1. Infinitesimal probabilities are used to keep track of propositions that are currently considered to have negligible probability, so that they are available if future information makes them more plausible. Multistate top revision satisfies a (...)
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  • Context-Indexed Counterfactuals.Mariusz Popieluch - 2022 - Studia Semiotyczne 35 (2):89-123.
    It is commonly believed that the role of context cannot be ignored in the analysis of conditionals, and counterfactuals in particular. On truth conditional accounts involving possible worlds semantics, conditionals have been analysed as expressions of relative necessity: “If A, then B” is true at some world w if B is true at all the A-worlds deemed relevant to the evaluation of the conditional at w. A drawback of this approach is that for the evaluation of conditionals with the same (...)
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  • Moore’s Paradox in Speech: A Critical Survey.John N. Williams - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (1):10-23.
    It is raining but you don’t believe that it is raining. Imagine accepting this claim. Then you are committed to saying ‘It is raining but I don’t believe that it is raining’. This would be an ‘absurd’ thing to claim or assert, yet what you say might be true. It might be raining, while at the same time, you are completely ignorant of the state of the weather. But how can it be absurd of you to assert something about yourself (...)
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  • Against the Ramsey Test.A. Morton - 2004 - Analysis 64 (4):294-299.
    I argue against the Ramsey test connecting indicative conditionals with conditional probability, by means of examples in which conditional probability is high but the conditional is intuitively implausible. At the end of the paper, I connect these issues to patterns of belief revision.
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  • A Probabilistic Semantics for Counterfactuals. Part B.Hannes Leitgeb - 2012 - Review of Symbolic Logic 5 (1):85-121.
    This is part B of a paper in which we defend a semantics for counterfactuals which is probabilistic in the sense that the truth condition for counterfactuals refers to a probability measure. Because of its probabilistic nature, it allows a counterfactual to be true even in the presence of relevant -worlds, as long such exceptions are not too widely spread. The semantics is made precise and studied in different versions which are related to each other by representation theorems. Despite its (...)
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  • Conditionals in Causal Decision Theory.John Cantwell - 2013 - Synthese 190 (4):661-679.
    This paper explores the possibility that causal decision theory can be formulated in terms of probabilities of conditionals. It is argued that a generalized Stalnaker semantics in combination with an underlying branching time structure not only provides the basis for a plausible account of the semantics of indicative conditionals, but also that the resulting conditionals have properties that make them well-suited as a basis for formulating causal decision theory. Decision theory (at least if we omit the frills) is not an (...)
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  • General Dynamic Triviality Theorems.Jeffrey Sanford Russell & John Hawthorne - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (3):307-339.
    Famous results by David Lewis show that plausible-sounding constraints on the probabilities of conditionals or evaluative claims lead to unacceptable results, by standard probabilistic reasoning. Existing presentations of these results rely on stronger assumptions than they really need. When we strip these arguments down to a minimal core, we can see both how certain replies miss the mark, and also how to devise parallel arguments for other domains, including epistemic “might,” probability claims, claims about comparative value, and so on. A (...)
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  • Conversation and Conditionals.J. Robert G. Williams - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (2):211 - 223.
    I outline and motivate a way of implementing a closest world theory of indicatives, appealing to Stalnaker's framework of open conversational possibilities. Stalnakerian conversational dynamics helps us resolve two outstanding puzzles for a such a theory of indicative conditionals. The first puzzle -- concerning so-called 'reverse Sobel sequences' -- can be resolved by conversation dynamics in a theoryneutral way: the explanation works as much for Lewisian counterfactuals as for the account of indicatives developed here. Resolving the second puzzle, by contrast, (...)
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  • From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defence of Conceptual Analysis.Frank Jackson - 1998 - Oxford University Press.
    Frank Jackson champions the cause of conceptual analysis as central to philosophical inquiry. In recent years conceptual analysis has been undervalued and widely misunderstood, suggests Jackson. He argues that such analysis is mistakenly clouded in mystery, preventing a whole range of important questions from being productively addressed. He anchors his argument in discussions of specific philosophical issues, starting with the metaphysical doctrine of physicalism and moving on, via free will, meaning, personal identity, motion, and change, to ethics and the philosophy (...)
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  • A Probabilistic Truth-Conditional Semantics for Indicative Conditionals.Michał Sikorski - 2022 - Semiotic Studies 35 (2):69-87.
    In my article, I present a new version of a probabilistic truth prescribing semantics for natural language indicative conditionals. The proposed truth conditions can be paraphrased as follows: an indicative conditional is true if the corresponding conditional probability is high and the antecedent is positively probabilistically relevant for the consequent or the probability of the antecedent of the conditional equals 0. In the paper, the truth conditions are defended and some of the logical properties of the proposed semantics are described.
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  • Frank Ramsey.Fraser MacBride, Mathieu Marion, Maria Jose Frapolli, Dorothy Edgington, Edward J. R. Elliott, Sebastian Lutz & Jeffrey Paris - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Frank Plumpton Ramsey (1903–30) made seminal contributions to philosophy, mathematics and economics. Whilst he was acknowledged as a genius by his contemporaries, some of his most important ideas were not appreciated until decades later; now better appreciated, they continue to bear an influence upon contemporary philosophy. His historic significance was to usher in a new phase of analytic philosophy, which initially built upon the logical atomist doctrines of Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein, raising their ideas to a new level of (...)
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  • Ceteris Paribus Laws.Alexander Reutlinger, Gerhard Schurz, Andreas Hüttemann & Siegfried Jaag - 2019 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Laws of nature take center stage in philosophy of science. Laws are usually believed to stand in a tight conceptual relation to many important key concepts such as causation, explanation, confirmation, determinism, counterfactuals etc. Traditionally, philosophers of science have focused on physical laws, which were taken to be at least true, universal statements that support counterfactual claims. But, although this claim about laws might be true with respect to physics, laws in the special sciences (such as biology, psychology, economics etc.) (...)
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  • Conditional Collapse.Sam Carter - forthcoming - Mind.
    Indicative and subjunctive conditionals are in non-complimentary distribution: there are conversational contexts at which both are licensed (Stalnaker (1975), Karttunen & Peters (1979), von Fintel (1998)). This means we can ask an important, but under-explored, question: in contexts which license both, what relations hold between the two? -/- In this paper, I’ll argue for an initially surprising conclusion: when attention is restricted to the relevant contexts, indicatives and subjunctives are co-entailing. §1 introduces the indicative/subjunctive distinction, along with a discussion of (...)
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  • The Logical Web.Matheus Silva - manuscript
    Different logic systems are motivated by attempts to fix the counter-intuitive instances of classical argumentative forms, e.g., strengthening of the antecedent, contraposition and conditional negation. These counter-examples are regarded as evidence that classical logic should be rejected in favour of a new logic system in which these argumentative forms are considered invalid. It is argued that these logical revisions are ad hoc, because those controversial argumentative forms are implied by other argumentative forms we want to keep. It is impossible to (...)
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  • Ramsey’s Conditionals.Caterina Sisti & Mario Günther - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2).
    In this paper, we propose a unified account of conditionals inspired by Frank Ramsey. Most contemporary philosophers agree that Ramsey’s account applies to indicative conditionals only. We observe against this orthodoxy that his account covers subjunctive conditionals as well—including counterfactuals. In light of this observation, we argue that Ramsey’s account of conditionals resembles Robert Stalnaker’s possible worlds semantics supplemented by a model of belief. The resemblance suggests to reinterpret the notion of conditional degree of belief in order to overcome a (...)
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  • Denying Antecedents and Affirming Consequents: The State of the Art.David Godden & Frank Zenker - 2015 - Informal Logic 35 (1):88-134.
    Recent work on conditional reasoning argues that denying the antecedent [DA] and affirming the consequent [AC] are defeasible but cogent patterns of argument, either because they are effective, rational, albeit heuristic applications of Bayesian probability, or because they are licensed by the principle of total evidence. Against this, we show that on any prevailing interpretation of indicative conditionals the premises of DA and AC arguments do not license their conclusions without additional assumptions. The cogency of DA and AC inferences rather (...)
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  • Logical Questions Behind the Lottery and Preface Paradoxes: Lossy Rules for Uncertain Inference.David Makinson - 2012 - Synthese 186 (2):511-529.
    We reflect on lessons that the lottery and preface paradoxes provide for the logic of uncertain inference. One of these lessons is the unreliability of the rule of conjunction of conclusions in such contexts, whether the inferences are probabilistic or qualitative; this leads us to an examination of consequence relations without that rule, the study of other rules that may nevertheless be satisfied in its absence, and a partial rehabilitation of conjunction as a ‘lossy’ rule. A second lesson is the (...)
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  • The restrictor view, without covert modals.Ivano Ciardelli - 2022 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (2):293-320.
    The view that if-clauses function semantically as restrictors is widely regarded as the only candidate for a fully general account of conditionals. The standard implementation of this view assumes that, where no operator to be restricted is in sight, if-clauses restrict covert epistemic modals. Stipulating such modals, however, lacks independent motivation and leads to wrong empirical predictions. In this paper I provide a theory of conditionals on which if-clauses are uniformly interpreted as restrictors, but no covert modals are postulated. Epistemic (...)
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  • Naturalism, Fallibilism, and the a Priori.Lisa Warenski - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 142 (3):403-426.
    This paper argues that a priori justification is, in principle, compatible with naturalism—if the a priori is understood in a way that is free of the inessential properties that, historically, have been associated with the concept. I argue that empirical indefeasibility is essential to the primary notion of the a priori ; however, the indefeasibility requirement should be interpreted in such a way that we can be fallibilist about apriori-justified claims. This fallibilist notion of the a priori accords with the (...)
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  • The Probability of Conditionals: The Psychological Evidence.David E. Over & Jonathan St B. T. Evans - 2003 - Mind and Language 18 (4):340–358.
    The two main psychological theories of the ordinary conditional were designed to account for inferences made from assumptions, but few premises in everyday life can be simply assumed true. Useful premises usually have a probability that is less than certainty. But what is the probability of the ordinary conditional and how is it determined? We argue that people use a two stage Ramsey test that we specify to make probability judgements about indicative conditionals in natural language, and we describe experiments (...)
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  • Rational Belief Change, Popper Functions and Counterfactuals.William L. Harper - 1975 - Synthese 30 (1-2):221 - 262.
    This paper uses Popper's treatment of probability and an epistemic constraint on probability assignments to conditionals to extend the Bayesian representation of rational belief so that revision of previously accepted evidence is allowed for. Results of this extension include an epistemic semantics for Lewis' theory of counterfactual conditionals and a representation for one kind of conceptual change.
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  • The Myth of the Categorical Counterfactual.David Barnett - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 144 (2):281 - 296.
    I aim to show that standard theories of counterfactuals are mistaken, not in detail, but in principle, and I aim to say what form a tenable theory must take. Standard theories entail a categorical interpretation of counterfactuals, on which to state that, if it were that A, it would be that C is to state something, not relative to any supposition or hypothesis, but categorically. On the rival suppositional interpretation, to state that, if it were that A, it would be (...)
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  • On Bradley’s Preservation Condition for Conditionals.Igor Douven - 2007 - Erkenntnis 67 (1):111 - 118.
    Bradley has argued that a truth-conditional semantics for conditionals is incompatible with an allegedly very weak and intuitively compelling constraint on the interpretation of conditionals. I argue that the example Bradley offers to motivate this constraint can be explained along pragmatic lines that are compatible with the correctness of at least one popular truth-conditional semantics for conditionals.
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  • Logic with Numbers.Colin Howson - 2007 - Synthese 156 (3):491-512.
    Many people regard utility theory as the only rigorous foundation for subjective probability, and even de Finetti thought the betting approach supplemented by Dutch Book arguments only good as an approximation to a utility-theoretic account. I think that there are good reasons to doubt this judgment, and I propose an alternative, in which the probability axioms are consistency constraints on distributions of fair betting quotients. The idea itself is hardly new: it is in de Finetti and also Ramsey. What is (...)
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  • On Bradley’s Preservation Condition for Conditionals.Igor Douven - 2007 - Erkenntnis 67 (1):111-118.
    Bradley has argued that a truth-conditional semantics for conditionals is incompatible with an allegedly very weak and intuitively compelling constraint on the interpretation of conditionals. I argue that the example Bradley offers to motivate this constraint can be explained along pragmatic lines that are compatible with the correctness of at least one popular truth-conditional semantics for conditionals.
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  • Beliefs in Conditionals Vs. Conditional Beliefs.Hannes Leitgeb - 2007 - Topoi 26 (1):115-132.
    On the basis of impossibility results on probability, belief revision, and conditionals, it is argued that conditional beliefs differ from beliefs in conditionals qua mental states. Once this is established, it will be pointed out in what sense conditional beliefs are still conditional, even though they may lack conditional contents, and why it is permissible to still regard them as beliefs, although they are not beliefs in conditionals. Along the way, the main logical, dispositional, representational, and normative properties of conditional (...)
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  • Reasoning with Conditionals.Guy Politzer - 2007 - Topoi 26 (1):79-95.
    This paper reviews the psychological investigation of reasoning with conditionals, putting an emphasis on recent work. In the first part, a few methodological remarks are presented. In the second part, the main theories of deductive reasoning (mental rules, mental models, and the probabilistic approach) are considered in turn; their content is summarised and the semantics they assume for if and the way they explain formal conditional reasoning are discussed, in particular in the light of experimental work on the probability of (...)
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  • Zif Would Have Been If: A Suppositional View of Counterfactuals.David Barnett - 2010 - Noûs 44 (2):269-304.
    Let us call a statement of the form ‘If A was, is, or will be the case, then C was, is, or will be the case’ an indicative conditional. And let us call a statement of the form ‘If A had been, were, or were to be the case, then C would have been, would be, or would come to be the case’ a subjunctive, or counterfactual, conditional.
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  • Possible World Semantics and True-True Counterfactuals.Lee Walters - 2016 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (3):322-346.
    The standard semantics for counterfactuals ensures that any counterfactual with a true antecedent and true consequent is itself true. There have been many recent attempts to amend the standard semantics to avoid this result. I show that these proposals invalidate a number of further principles of the standard logic of counterfactuals. The case against the automatic truth of counterfactuals with true components does not extend to these further principles, however, so it is not clear that rejecting the latter should be (...)
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  • Rethinking the Acceptability and Probability of Indicative Conditionals.Michał Sikorski - forthcoming - In Stefan Kaufmann, Over David & Ghanshyam Sharma (eds.), Conditionals: Logic, linguistics, and psychology. Palgrave.
    The chapter is devoted to the probability and acceptability of indicative conditionals. Focusing on three influential theses, the Equation, Adams’ thesis, and the qualitative version of Adams’ thesis, Sikorski argues that none of them is well supported by the available empirical evidence. In the most controversial case of the Equation, the results of many studies which support it are, at least to some degree, undermined by some recent experimental findings. Sikorski discusses the Ramsey Test, and Lewis’s triviality proof, with special (...)
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  • Do Indicative Conditionals Express Propositions?Daniel Rothschild - 2013 - Noûs 47 (1):49-68.
    Discusses how to capture the link between the probability of indicative conditionals and conditional probability using a classical semantics for conditionals.
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  • Reason and the Grain of Belief.Scott Sturgeon - 2008 - Noûs 42 (1):139–165.
  • What is 'Conditional Probability'?E. J. Lowe - 2008 - Analysis 68 (3):218-223.
  • Relation‐Based Thought, Objectivity and Disagreement.Christopher Peacocke - 2010 - Dialectica 64 (1):35-56.
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  • Causation: Determination and Difference-Making.Boris Kment - 2010 - Noûs 44 (1):80-111.
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  • Desiring the Truth and Nothing but the Truth.Christian Piller - 2009 - Noûs 43 (2):193-213.
  • Morgenbesser Cases and Closet Determinism.Ian Phillips - 2007 - Analysis 67 (1):42–49.
    Sidney Morgenbesser brought to attention cases of the following form: (MC1) Chump tosses an indeterministic coin and, whilst it is in mid-air, calls heads. The coin lands tails, and Chump loses. His betting was causally independent of the coin’s fall. Chump seems right to say: ‘If I had bet tails, I would have won.’1 (MC2).
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  • A Puzzle About Knowing Conditionals.Daniel Rothschild & Levi Spectre - 2018 - Noûs 52 (2):473-478.
    We present a puzzle about knowledge, probability and conditionals. We show that in certain cases some basic and plausible principles governing our reasoning come into conflict. In particular, we show that there is a simple argument that a person may be in a position to know a conditional the consequent of which has a low probability conditional on its antecedent, contra Adams’ Thesis. We suggest that the puzzle motivates a very strong restriction on the inference of a conditional from a (...)
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  • Belief, Degrees of Belief, and Assertion.Peter Milne - 2012 - Dialectica 66 (3):331-349.
    Starting from John MacFarlane's recent survey of answers to the question ‘What is assertion?’, I defend an account of assertion that draws on elements of MacFarlane's and Robert Brandom's commitment accounts, Timothy Williamson's knowledge norm account, and my own previous work on the normative status of logic. I defend the knowledge norm from recent attacks. Indicative conditionals, however, pose a problem when read along the lines of Ernest Adams' account, an account supported by much work in the psychology of reasoning. (...)
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  • Antecedents and Consequents.V. H. Dudman - 1986 - Theoria 52 (3):168-199.