Between a conditional’s antecedent and its consequent: Discourse coherence vs. probabilistic relevance

Cognition 164:199-205 (2017)

Authors
Karolina Krzyżanowska
University of Amsterdam
Ulrike Hahn
Birkbeck College
Abstract
Reasoning with conditionals is central to everyday life, yet there is long-standing disagreement about the meaning of the conditional. One example is the puzzle of so-called missing-link conditionals such as "if raccoons have no wings, they cannot breathe under water." Their oddity may be taken to show that conditionals require a connection between antecedent ("raccoons have no wings") and consequent ("they cannot breathe under water"), yet most accounts of conditionals attribute the oddity to natural language pragmatics. We present an experimental study disentangling the pragmatic requirement of discourse coherence from a stronger notion of connection: probabilistic relevance. Results indicate that mere discourse coherence is not enough to make conditionals assertable.
Keywords indicative conditionals  probabilistic relevance  discourse coherence  assertability
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DOI 10.1016/j.cognition.2017.03.009
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References found in this work BETA

Studies in the Way of Words.H. Grice - 1989 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Studies in the Way of Words.Paul Grice - 1989 - Synthese 84 (1):153-161.
On Conditionals.Dorothy Edgington - 1995 - Mind 104 (414):235-329.

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