Probabilities of conditionals in context

Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (1):1-43 (2016)
Justin Khoo
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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 sometimes fails, and motivate my own theory. On my theory, the proposition expressed by an indicative conditional is partially determined by a background partition, and hence its probability depends on the choice of such a partition. I hold that this background partition is contextually determined, and in certain conditions is set by a salient question under discussion in the context. I show how the resulting theory offers compelling answers to the puzzling questions raised by failures of the Ramseyan thesis.
Keywords philosophy of language  conditionals  probability  context  questions
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10988-015-9182-z
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 34,425
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

Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - Routledge.
On Conditionals.Dorothy Edgington - 1995 - Mind 104 (414):235-329.
Blindspots.Roy A. Sorensen - 1988 - Oxford University Press.

View all 68 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Conditionals and Questions.Justin Khoo - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (1):51-55.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Fall of “Adams' Thesis”?Alan Hájek - 2012 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 21 (2):145-161.
Conditioning Against the Grain.Stefan Kaufmann - 2004 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 33 (6):583-606.
Adams Conditionals and Non-Monotonic Probabilities.Richard Bradley - 2006 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 15 (1-2):65-81.
Conditionals, Indeterminacy, and Triviality.Justin Khoo - 2013 - Philosophical Perspectives 27 (1):260-287.
Indicative Conditionals.Richard Bradley - 2002 - Erkenntnis 56 (3):345-378.
The Probabilities of Conditionals Revisited.Igor Douven & Sara Verbrugge - 2013 - Cognitive Science 37 (4):711-730.
Conditionals, Probability, and Non-Triviality.Charles G. Morgan & Edwin D. Mares - 1995 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 24 (5):455-467.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
100 ( #61,212 of 2,267,193 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #210,927 of 2,267,193 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature