Conditional preferences and practical conditionals

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

Authors
Nate Charlow
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Abstract
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
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DOI 10.1007/s10988-013-9143-3
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Blackwell.
Thinking How to Live.Allan Gibbard - 2003 - Harvard University Press.
Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.

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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.
Decision-Theoretic Relativity in Deontic Modality.Nate Charlow - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (3):251-287.
Clause-Type, Force, and Normative Judgment in the Semantics of Imperatives.Nate Charlow - forthcoming - In Daniel Fogal Daniel Harris & Matt Moss (eds.), New Work on Speech Acts. Oxford University Press.

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