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Conditionals

Chicago Linguistics Society 22 (2):1–15 (1986)

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  1. Embedded Attitudes.Kyle Blumberg & Ben Holguín - forthcoming - Journal of Semantics.
    This paper presents a puzzle involving embedded attitude reports. We resolve the puzzle by arguing that attitude verbs take restricted readings: in some environments the denotation of attitude verbs can be restricted by a given proposition. For example, when these verbs are embedded in the consequent of a conditional, they can be restricted by the proposition expressed by the conditional’s antecedent. We formulate and motivate two conditions on the availability of verb restrictions: (i) a constraint that ties the content of (...)
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  • Fatalism and the Logic of Unconditionals.Justin Bledin - forthcoming - Noûs.
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  • The Necessity of Mathematics.Juhani Yli‐Vakkuri & John Hawthorne - 2018 - Noûs 52.
    Some have argued for a division of epistemic labor in which mathematicians supply truths and philosophers supply their necessity. We argue that this is wrong: mathematics is committed to its own necessity. Counterfactuals play a starring role.
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  • Two Types of Donkey Sentences.Lisa L. S. Cheng & C. T. James Huang - 1996 - Natural Language Semantics 4 (2):121-163.
    Mandarin Chinese exhibits two paradigms of conditionals with indefinite wh-words that have the semantics of donkey sentences, represented by ‘bare conditionals’ on the one hand and ruguo- and dou-conditionals on the other. The bare conditionals require multiple occurrences of wh-words, disallowing the use of overt or covert anaphoric elements in the consequent clause, whereas the ruguo- and dou-conditionals present a completely opposite pattern. We argue that the bare conditionals are cases of unselective binding par excellence (Heim 1982, Kamp 1981) while (...)
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  • Connectives Without Truth Tables.Nathan Klinedinst & Daniel Rothschild - 2012 - Natural Language Semantics 20 (2):137-175.
    There are certain uses of and and or that cannot be explained by their normal meanings as truth-functional connectives, even with sophisticated pragmatic resources. These include examples such as The cops show up, and a fight will break out (‘If the cops show up, a fight will break out’), and I have no friends, or I would throw a party (‘I have no friends. If I did have friends, I would throw a party.’). We argue that these uses are indeed (...)
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  • Why Will is Not a Modal.Mikhail Kissine - 2008 - Natural Language Semantics 16 (2):129-155.
    In opposition to a common assumption, this paper defends the idea that the auxiliary verb will has no other semantic contribution in contemporary English than a temporal shift towards the future with respect to the utterance time. Strong reasons for rejecting the idea that will quantifies over possible worlds are presented. Given the adoption of Lewis’s and Kratzer’s views on modality, the alleged ‘modal’ uses of will are accounted for by a pragmatic mechanism which restricts the domain of the covert (...)
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  • Contextualist Theories of the Indicative Conditional and Stalnaker's Thesis.Theodore Korzukhin - 2014 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 3 (3):177-183.
    Lewis argued that ‘there is no way to interpret a conditional connective so that, with sufficient generality, the probabilities of conditionals will equal the appropriate conditional probabilities’. However, as Lewis and others have subsequently recognized, Lewis' triviality results go through only on the assumption that ‘if’ is not context-sensitive. This leaves a question that has not been adequately addressed: what are the prospects of a context-sensitive theory of ‘if’ that complies with Stalnaker's thesis? I offer one interesting constraint on any (...)
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  • Fake Tense in Conditional Sentences: A Modal Approach.K. Schulz - 2014 - Natural Language Semantics 22 (2):117-144.
    Many languages allow for “fake” uses of their past tense marker: the marker: can occur in certain contexts without conveying temporal pastness. Instead it appears to bear a modal meaning. Iatridou :231–270, 2000) has dubbed this phenomenon Fake Tense. Fake Tense is particularly common to conditional constructions. This paper analyzes Fake Tense in English conditional sentences as a certain kind of ambiguity: the past tense morphology can mark the presence of a temporal operator, but it can also signal a specific (...)
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  • Triviality Results and the Relationship Between Logical and Natural Languages.Justin Khoo & Matthew Mandelkern - forthcoming - Mind:fzy006.
    Inquiry into the meaning of logical terms in natural language (‘and’, ‘or’, ‘not’, ‘if’) has generally proceeded along two dimensions. On the one hand, semantic theories aim to predict native speaker intuitions about the natural language sentences involving those logical terms. On the other hand, logical theories explore the formal properties of the translations of those terms into formal languages. Sometimes, these two lines of inquiry appear to be in tension: for instance, our best logical investigation into conditional connectives may (...)
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  • Counterfactual Triviality: A Lewis-Impossibility Argument for Counterfactuals.J. Robert & G. Williams - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (3):648-670.
    I formulate a counterfactual version of the notorious 'Ramsey Test'. Whereas the Ramsey Test for indicative conditionals links credence in indicatives to conditional credences, the counterfactual version links credence in counterfactuals to expected conditional chance. I outline two forms: a Ramsey Identity on which the probability of the conditional should be identical to the corresponding conditional probabihty/expectation of chance; and a Ramsey Bound on which credence in the conditional should never exceed the latter.Even in the weaker, bound, form, the counterfactual (...)
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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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  • Hurford Conditionals.Matthew Mandelkern & Jacopo Romoli - 2018 - Journal of Semantics 35 (2):357-367.
    Compare the following conditionals: 'If John is not in Paris, he is in France' versus 'If John is in France, he is not in Paris.' The second sounds entirely natural, whereas the first sounds quite strange. This contrast is puzzling, because these two conditionals have the same structure at a certain level of logical abstraction, namely 'If ¬p+, then p.' -/- We argue that existing theories of informational oddness do not distinguish between these conditionals. We do not have an account (...)
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  • Counterpossibles for Dispositionalists.Barbara Vetter - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2681-2700.
    Dispositionalists try to provide an account of modality—possibility, necessity, and the counterfactual conditional—in terms of dispositions. But there may be a tension between dispositionalist accounts of possibility on the one hand, and of counterfactuals on the other. Dispositionalists about possibility must hold that there are no impossible dispositions, i.e., dispositions with metaphysically impossible stimulus and/or manifestation conditions; dispositionalist accounts of counterfactuals, if they allow for non-vacuous counterpossibles, require that there are such impossible dispositions. I argue, first, that there are in (...)
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  • Deliberative Modality Under Epistemic Uncertainty.Fabrizio Cariani, Magdalena Kaufmann & Stefan Kaufmann - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (3):225-259.
    We discuss the semantic significance of a puzzle concerning ‘ought’ and conditionals recently discussed by Kolodny and MacFarlane. We argue that the puzzle is problematic for the standard Kratzer-style analysis of modality. In Kratzer’s semantics, modals are evaluated relative to a pair of conversational backgrounds. We show that there is no sensible way of assigning values to these conversational backgrounds so as to derive all of the intuitions in Kolodny and MacFarlane’s case. We show that the appropriate verdicts can be (...)
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  • The Consequent-Entailment Problem Foreven If.Stephen J. Barker - 1994 - Linguistics and Philosophy 17 (3):249 - 260.
    A comprehensive theory ofeven if needs to account for consequent ‘entailing’even ifs and in particular those of theif-focused variety. This is where the theory ofeven if ceases to be neutral between conditional theories. I have argued thatif-focusedeven ifs,especially if andonly if can only be accounted for through the suppositional theory ofif. Furthermore, a particular interpretation of this theory — the conditional assertion theory — is needed to account foronly if and a type of metalinguistic negation ofQ if P. We therefore (...)
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  • Split Intensionality: A New Scope Theory of de Re and de Dicto.Ezra Keshet - 2010 - Linguistics and Philosophy 33 (4):251-283.
    The traditional scope theory of intensionality (STI) (see Russell 1905; Montague 1973; Ladusaw 1977; Ogihara 1992, 1996; Stowell 1993) is simple, elegant, and, for the most part, empirically adequate. However, a few quite troubling counterexamples to this theory have lead researchers to propose alternatives, such as positing null situation pronouns (Percus 2000) or actuality operators (Kamp 1971; Cresswell 1990) in the syntax of natural language. These innovative theories do correct the undergeneration of the original scope theory, but at a cost: (...)
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  • Closure and Epistemic Modals.Justin Bledin & Tamar Lando - 2018 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 97 (1):3-22.
    According to a popular closure principle for epistemic justification, if one is justified in believing each of the premises in set Φ and one comes to believe that ψ on the basis of competently deducing ψ from Φ—while retaining justified beliefs in the premises—then one is justified in believing that ψ. This principle is prima facie compelling; it seems to capture the sense in which competent deduction is an epistemically secure means to extend belief. However, even the single-premise version of (...)
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  • What Asymmetric Coordination in German Tells Us About the Syntax and Semantics of Conditionals.Ingo Reich - 2009 - Natural Language Semantics 17 (3):219-244.
    In this paper, I argue on empirical grounds that (VL-initial) Asymmetric Coordination in German cannot be reduced to a syntactic structure of the form [if S1, then S2], but rather needs to be analyzed as some kind of adjunction to the if-clause, i.e., along the lines of [[if S1] and S2]. This conclusion gives rise to an apparent mismatch between syntactic structure (narrow scope of if) and semantic interpretation (wide scope of if). To resolve this paradoxical situation, I propose a (...)
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  • Probabilities of Conditionals in Context.Justin Khoo - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (1):1-43.
    The Ramseyan thesis that the probability of an indicative conditional is equal to the corresponding conditional probability of its consequent given its antecedent is both widely confirmed and subject to attested counterexamples (e.g., McGee 2000, Kaufmann 2004). This raises several puzzling questions. For instance, why are there interpretations of conditionals that violate this Ramseyan thesis in certain contexts, and why are they otherwise very rare? In this paper, I raise some challenges to Stefan Kaufmann's account of why the Ramseyan thesis (...)
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  • Capturing the Relationship Between Conditionals and Conditional Probability with a Trivalent Semantics.Daniel Rothschild - 2014 - Journal of Applied Non-Classical Logics 24 (1-2):144-152.
    (2014). Capturing the relationship between conditionals and conditional probability with a trivalent semantics. Journal of Applied Non-Classical Logics: Vol. 24, Three-Valued Logics and their Applications, pp. 144-152. doi: 10.1080/11663081.2014.911535.
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  • Will Done Better: Selection Semantics, Future Credence, and Indeterminacy.Fabrizio Cariani & Paolo Santorio - 2018 - Mind 127 (505):129-165.
    Statements about the future are central in everyday conversation and reasoning. How should we understand their meaning? The received view among philosophers treats will as a tense: in ‘Cynthia will pass her exam’, will shifts the reference time forward. Linguists, however, have produced substantial evidence for the view that will is a modal, on a par with must and would. The different accounts are designed to satisfy different theoretical constraints, apparently pulling in opposite directions. We show that these constraints are (...)
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  • A Unified Analysis of Conditionals as Topics.Christian Ebert, Cornelia Ebert & Stefan Hinterwimmer - 2014 - Linguistics and Philosophy 37 (5):353-408.
    We bring out syntactic and semantic similarities of two types of conditionals with fronted antecedents [normal indicative conditionals and biscuit conditionals ] and two types of left dislocation constructions in German, which mark two types of topicality. On the basis of these similarities we argue that NCs and BCs are aboutness topics and relevance topics, respectively. Our analysis extends the approach to aboutness topicality of Endriss to relevance topics to derive the semantic and pragmatic contribution of left-dislocated DPs and applies (...)
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  • Constraints on the Lexicalization of Logical Operators.Roni Katzir & Raj Singh - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (1):1-29.
    We revisit a typological puzzle due to Horn (Doctoral Dissertation, UCLA, 1972) regarding the lexicalization of logical operators: in instantiations of the traditional square of opposition across categories and languages, the O corner, corresponding to ‘nand’ (= not and), ‘nevery’ (= not every), etc., is never lexicalized. We discuss Horn’s proposal, which involves the interaction of two economy conditions, one that relies on scalar implicatures and one that relies on markedness. We observe that in order to express markedness and to (...)
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  • Vagueness, Conditionals and Probability.Robert Williams - 2009 - Erkenntnis 70 (2):151 - 171.
    This paper explores the interaction of well-motivated (if controversial) principles governing the probability conditionals, with accounts of what it is for a sentence to be indefinite. The conclusion can be played in a variety of ways. It could be regarded as a new reason to be suspicious of the intuitive data about the probability of conditionals; or, holding fixed the data, it could be used to give traction on the philosophical analysis of a contentious notion—indefiniteness. The paper outlines the various (...)
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  • Import‐Export and ‘And’.Matthew Mandelkern - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Import-Export says that a conditional 'If p, if q, r' is always equivalent to the conditional 'If p and q, r'. I argue that Import-Export does not sit well with a classical approach to conjunction: given some plausible and widely accepted principles about conditionals, Import-Export together with classical conjunction leads to absurd consequences. My main goal is to draw out these surprising connections. In concluding I argue that the right response is to reject Import-Export and adopt instead a limited version (...)
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  • Chamorro Evidence for Compositional Asymmetry.Sandra Chung & William A. Ladusaw - 2006 - Natural Language Semantics 14 (4):325-357.
    In earlier work, we developed an composition in which predicates can be composed with arguments by operations other than Function Application, and it makes a difference which composition operation is employed. Here we take our approach further by examining two nonsaturating operations that combine property contents: Restrict, which composes a predicate with the property content of an indefinite; and Modify, which is involved in predicate modification. Nonsaturating operations that combine property contents are often formalized in terms of predicate intersection, which (...)
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  • Disjunctive Antecedent Conditionals.Justin Khoo - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Disjunctive antecedent conditionals (DACs)—conditionals of the form if A or B, C—sometimes seem to entail both of their simplifications (if A, C; if B, C) and sometimes seem not to. I argue that this behavior reveals a genuine am- biguity in DACs. Along the way, I discuss a new observation about the role of focal stress in distinguishing the two interpretations of DACs. I propose a new theory, according to which the surface form of a DAC underdetermines its logical form: (...)
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  • Whether-Conditionals.Theodore Korzukhin - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (3):609-628.
    In this paper I look at indicative nested whether-conditionals, sentences like:If I pass the exam, I will pass whether I pray or not.The behavior of ‘if’ in these examples is to be contrasted with the behavior of ‘if’ in or-to-if conditionals:If Mary is at home or at work, then if she is not at home, she is at work.I argue that no currently available semantics for indicative conditionals can explain both the behavior of ‘if’ in nested whether-conditionals and the behavior (...)
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  • Defending Conditional Excluded Middle.J. Robert G. Williams - 2010 - Noûs 44 (4):650-668.
    Lewis (1973) gave a short argument against conditional excluded middle, based on his treatment of ‘might’ counterfactuals. Bennett (2003), with much of the recent literature, gives an alternative take on ‘might’ counterfactuals. But Bennett claims the might-argument against CEM still goes through. This turns on a specific claim I call Bennett’s Hypothesis. I argue that independently of issues to do with the proper analysis of might-counterfactuals, Bennett’s Hypothesis is inconsistent with CEM. But Bennett’s Hypothesis is independently objectionable, so we should (...)
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  • Conditionals and Propositions in Semantics.Daniel Rothschild - 2015 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 44 (6):781-791.
    IntroductionThe project of giving an account of meaning in natural languages goes largely by assigning truth-conditional content to sentences. I will call the view that sentences have truth-conditional content propositionalism as it is common to identify the truth-conditional content of a sentence with the proposition it expresses. This content plays an important role in our explanations of the speech-acts, attitude ascriptions, and the meaning of sentences when they appear as parts of longer sentences. Much work in philosophy of language and (...)
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  • Modalised Conditionals: A Response to Willer.Moritz Schulz - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 163 (3):673-682.
    A paper by Schulz (Philos Stud 149:367–386, 2010) describes how the suppositional view of indicative conditionals can be supplemented with a derived view of epistemic modals. In a recent criticism of this paper, Willer (Philos Stud 153:365–375, 2011) argues that the resulting account of conditionals and epistemic modals cannot do justice to the validity of certain inference patterns involving modalised conditionals. In the present response, I analyse Willer’s argument, identify an implicit presupposition which can plausibly be denied and show that (...)
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  • Modus Ponens Under the Restrictor View.Moritz Schulz - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 47 (6):1001-1028.
    There is a renewed debate about modus ponens. Strikingly, the recent counterexamples in Cantwell, Dreier and MacFarlane and Kolodny are generated by restricted readings of the ‘if’-clause. Moreover, it can be argued on general grounds that the restrictor view of conditionals developed in Kratzer and Lewis leads to counterexamples to modus ponens. This paper provides a careful analysis of modus ponens within the framework of the restrictor view. Despite appearances to the contrary, there is a robust sense in which modus (...)
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  • Bounded Modality.Matthew Mandelkern - 2019 - Philosophical Review 128 (1):1-61.
    What does 'might' mean? One hypothesis is that 'It might be raining' is essentially an avowal of ignorance like 'For all I know, it's raining'. But it turns out these two constructions embed in different ways, in particular as parts of larger constructions like Wittgenstein's 'It might be raining and it's not' and Moore's 'It's raining and I don't know it', respectively. A variety of approaches have been developed to account for those differences. All approaches agree that both Moore sentences (...)
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  • Semantic Composition and Presupposition Projection in Subjunctive Conditionals.Michela Ippolito - 2006 - Linguistics and Philosophy 29 (6):631 - 672.
    The goal of this paper is to offer a compositional semantics for subjunctive and indicative will conditionals, and to derive the projection properties of the types of conditionals we consider and in particular those of counterfactual conditionals. It is argued that subjunctive conditionals are "bare" conditional embedded under temporal and aspectural operators, which constrain the interpretation of the modal operators in the embedded conditional. Furthermore, it is argued that a theory of presupposition projection à la Heim together with the present (...)
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  • Generics and Weak Necessity.Ravi Thakral - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-28.
    A prevailing thought is that generics have a covert modal operator at logical form. I claim that if this is right, the covert generic modality is a weak necessity modal. In this paper, I provide evidence for this claim and I sketch a theory. In particular, I will show that there are some important distributional parallels between generics and sentences with overt weak necessity modals: both sorts of sentences share behavior in nonmonotonic reasoning environments and also lack genuine epistemic readings. (...)
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  • Weak Speech Reports.Martín Abreu Zavaleta - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-28.
    Indirect speech reports can be true even if they attribute to the speaker the saying of something weaker than what she in fact expressed, yet not all weakenings of what the speaker expressed yield true reports. For example, if Anna utters ‘Bob and Carla passed the exam’, we can accurately report her as having said that Carla passed the exam, but we can not accurately report her as having said that either it rains or it does not, or that either (...)
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  • Against the Russellian Open Future.Anders J. Schoubye & Brian Rabern - 2017 - Mind 126 (504): 1217–1237.
    Todd (2016) proposes an analysis of future-directed sentences, in particular sentences of the form 'will(φ)', that is based on the classic Russellian analysis of definite descriptions. Todd's analysis is supposed to vindicate the claim that the future is metaphysically open while retaining a simple Ockhamist semantics of future contingents and the principles of classical logic, i.e. bivalence and the law of excluded middle. Consequently, an open futurist can straightforwardly retain classical logic without appeal to supervaluations, determinacy operators, or any further (...)
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  • A Note on Gibbard's Proof.Justin Khoo - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (S1):153-164.
    A proof by Allan Gibbard (Ifs: Conditionals, beliefs, decision, chance, time. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1981) seems to demonstrate that if indicative conditionals have truth conditions, they cannot be stronger than material implication. Angelika Kratzer's theory that conditionals do not denote two-place operators purports to escape this result [see Kratzer (Chic Linguist Soc 22(2):1–15, 1986, 2012)]. In this note, I raise some trouble for Kratzer’s proposed method of escape and then show that her semantics avoids this consequence of Gibbard’s proof by denying (...)
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  • Conditional Preferences and Practical Conditionals.Nate Charlow - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (6):463-511.
    I argue that taking the Practical Conditionals Thesis seriously demands a new understanding of the semantics of such conditionals. Practical Conditionals Thesis: A practical conditional [if A][ought] expresses B’s conditional preferability given A Paul Weirich has argued that the conditional utility of a state of affairs B on A is to be identified as the degree to which it is desired under indicative supposition that A. Similarly, exploiting the PCT, I will argue that the proper analysis of indicative practical conditionals (...)
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  • Triviality For Restrictor Conditionals.Nate Charlow - 2016 - Noûs 50 (3):533-564.
    I present two Triviality results for Kratzer's standard “restrictor” analysis of indicative conditionals. I both refine and undermine the common claim that problems of Triviality do not arise for Kratzer conditionals since they are not strictly conditionals at all.
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  • Conditionals.Kyle Rawlins - 2013 - Natural Language Semantics 21 (2):111-178.
    I give an account of the compositional semantics of unconditionals that explains their relationship to if -conditionals in the Lewis/Kratzer/Heim tradition. Unconditionals involve an alternative-denoting adjunct that supplies domain restrictions pointwise to a main-clause operator such as a modal. The differences from if -clauses follow from the structure of the adjuncts; both are conditionals in the Lewisian sense. In the course of treating unconditionals, I provide a concrete implementation of conditionals where conditional adjuncts in general are a species of correlative, (...)
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