A Uniform Theory of Conditionals

Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (6):1019-1064 (2014)
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Abstract

A uniform theory of conditionals is one which compositionally captures the behavior of both indicative and subjunctive conditionals without positing ambiguities. This paper raises new problems for the closest thing to a uniform analysis in the literature (Stalnaker, Philosophia, 5, 269–286 (1975)) and develops a new theory which solves them. I also show that this new analysis provides an improved treatment of three phenomena (the import-export equivalence, reverse Sobel-sequences and disjunctive antecedents). While these results concern central issues in the study of conditionals, broader themes in the philosophy of language and formal semantics are also engaged here. This new analysis exploits a dynamic conception of meaning where the meaning of a symbol is its potential to change an agent’s mental state (or the state of a conversation) rather than being the symbol’s content (e.g. the proposition it expresses). The analysis of conditionals is also built on the idea that the contrast between subjunctive and indicative conditionals parallels a contrast between revising and consistently extending some body of information.

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W. Starr
Cornell University

Citations of this work

A Preference Semantics for Imperatives.William B. Starr - 2020 - Semantics and Pragmatics 20.
If P, Then P!Matthew Mandelkern - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (12):645-679.
Prospects for an Expressivist Theory of Meaning.Nate Charlow - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15:1-43.
Counteridenticals.Alexander W. Kocurek - 2018 - The Philosophical Review 127 (3):323-369.
The Dynamics of Argumentative Discourse.Carlotta Pavese & Alexander W. Kocurek - 2022 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 51 (2):413-456.

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References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
Convention: A Philosophical Study.David Kellogg Lewis - 1969 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Scorekeeping in a language game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.

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