Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (6):463-511 (2013)

Nate Charlow
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
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 is in terms of what is planned, desired, or preferred, given suppositional changes to an agent’s information. Implementing such a conception of conditional preference in a semantic analysis of indicative practical conditionals turns out to be incompatible with any approach which treats the indicative conditional as expressing non-vacuous universal quantification over some domain of relevant antecedent-possibilities. Such analyses, I argue, encode a fundamental misunderstanding of what it is to be best, given some condition. The analysis that does the best vis-à-vis the PCT is, instead, one that blends a Context-Shifty account of indicative antecedents with an Expressivistic, or non-propositional, treatment of their practical consequents
Keywords Indicative conditionals  Practical conditionals  Anankastic conditionals  Conditional imperatives  Conditional preference  Prioritizing modality  Dynamic semantics  Expressivism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10988-013-9143-3
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
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

Counterfactuals.David Kellogg Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
The Logic of Decision.Richard C. Jeffrey - 1965 - New York, NY, USA: University of Chicago Press.
Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.

View all 56 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Prospects for an Expressivist Theory of Meaning.Nate Charlow - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15:1-43.
The Meaning of Imperatives.Nate Charlow - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (8):540-555.
Policy Externalism.Daniel Drucker - 2019 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 98 (2):261-285.
Policy Externalism.Daniel Drucker - 2017 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 94 (3).

View all 9 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
437 ( #19,935 of 2,462,368 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
13 ( #56,564 of 2,462,368 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes