Conditionals, Conditional Probabilities, and Conditionalization

In Hans-Christian Schmitz & Henk Zeevat (eds.), Bayesian Natural Language Semantics and Pragmatics. Springer. pp. 71-94 (2015)
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Philosophers investigating the interpretation and use of conditional sentences have long been intrigued by the intuitive correspondence between the probability of a conditional `if A, then C' and the conditional probability of C, given A. Attempts to account for this intuition within a general probabilistic theory of belief, meaning and use have been plagued by a danger of trivialization, which has proven to be remarkably recalcitrant and absorbed much of the creative effort in the area. But there is a strategy for avoiding triviality that has been known for almost as long as the triviality results themselves. What is lacking is a straightforward integration of this approach in a larger framework of belief representation and dynamics. This paper discusses some of the issues involved and proposes an account of belief update by conditionalization.



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Stefan Kaufmann
University of Connecticut

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