# Indicative Conditionals and Conditional Probabilities

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1. Many recent theories of epistemic discourse exploit an informational notion of consequence, i.e. a notion that defines entailment as preservation of support by an information state. This paper investigates how informational consequence fits with probabilistic reasoning. I raise two problems. First, all informational inferences that are not also classical inferences are, intuitively, probabilistically invalid. Second, all these inferences can be exploited, in a systematic way, to generate triviality results. The informational theorist is left with two options, both of them radical: (...)

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2. Four intuitions are recurrent and influential in theories about conditionals: the Ramsey’s test, the Adams’ Thesis, the Equation, and the robustness requirement. For simplicity’s sake, I call these intuitions ‘the big four’. My aim is to show that: (1) the big four are interdependent; (2) they express our inferential dispositions to employ a conditional on a modus ponens; (3) the disposition to employ conditionals on a modus ponens doesn’t have the epistemic significance that is usually attributed to it, since the (...)

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3. Intensional evidence is any reason to accept a proposition that is not the truth values of the proposition accepted or, if it is a complex proposition, is not the truth values of its propositional contents. Extensional evidence is non-intensional evidence. Someone can accept a complex proposition, but deny its logical consequences when her acceptance is based on intensional evidence, while the logical consequences of the proposition presuppose the acceptance of extensional evidence, e.g., she can refuse the logical consequence of a (...)

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4. The Equation (TE) states that the probability of A → B is the probability of B given A. Lewis (1976) has shown that the acceptance of TE implies that the probability of A → B is the probability of B, which is implausible: the probability of a conditional cannot plausibly be the same as the probability of its consequent, e.g., the probability that the match will light given that is struck is not intuitively the same as the probability that it (...)

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5. The prevailing viewpoint concerning conditionals asserts two claims: (1) conditionals featuring non-assertive acts in their consequents, such as commands and promises, cannot plausibly be construed as assertions of material implication; (2) the most promising hypothesis for such sentences is conditional-assertion theory, which defines a conditional as a conditional speech act, i.e., the performance of a speech act given the assumption of the antecedent. This hypothesis carries significant and far-reaching implications, as conditional speech acts are not synonymous with a proposition possessing (...)

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6. Conditional probability is often used to represent the probability of the conditional. However, triviality results suggest that the thesis that the probability of the conditional always equals conditional probability leads to untenable conclusions. In this paper, I offer an interpretation of this thesis in a possible worlds framework, arguing that the triviality results make assumptions at odds with the use of conditional probability. I argue that these assumptions come from a theory called the operator theory and that the rival restrictor (...)

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7. Non-Propositionalism and The Suppositional Rule.Tom Beevers - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-22.
It can often seem like the attitude we hold towards a conditional should be our attitude in the consequent on the supposition of the antecedent. Following by Williamson (Suppose and Tell: The Semantics and Heuristics of Conditionals. Oxford University Press, 2020), we call this The suppositional rule (SR). The Adams-style non-propositional theories of indicatives upholds some key implications of SR, allowing, for instance, our credence in a conditional to be the probability of the consequent given the antecedent. Williamson (Suppose and (...)

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8. Deontic Modals and Probability: One Theory to Rule Them All?Fabrizio Cariani - forthcoming - In Nate Charlow & Matthew Chrisman (eds.), Deontic Modality. Oxford University Press.
This paper motivates and develops a novel semantic framework for deontic modals. The framework is designed to shed light on two things: the relationship between deontic modals and substantive theories of practical rationality and the interaction of deontic modals with conditionals, epistemic modals and probability operators. I argue that, in order to model inferential connections between deontic modals and probability operators, we need more structure than is provided by classical intensional theories. In particular, we need probabilistic structure that interacts directly (...)

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9. Rethinking the Acceptability and Probability of Indicative Conditionals.Michał Sikorski - forthcoming - In Stefan Kaufmann, Over David & Ghanshyam Sharma (eds.), Conditionals: Logic, linguistics, and psychology. Palgrave.
The chapter is devoted to the probability and acceptability of indicative conditionals. Focusing on three inﬂuential theses, the Equation, Adams’ thesis, and the qualitative version of Adams’ thesis, Sikorski argues that none of them is well supported by the available empirical evidence. In the most controversial case of the Equation, the results of many studies which support it are, at least to some degree, undermined by some recent experimental ﬁndings. Sikorski discusses the Ramsey Test, and Lewis’s triviality proof, with special (...)

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10. Williamson on Indicatives and Suppositional Heuristics.Franz Berto - 2022 - Synthese (1):1-12.
Timothy Williamson has defended the claim that the semantics of the indicative ‘if’ is given by the material conditional. Putative counterexamples can be handled by better understanding the role played in our assessment of indicatives by a fallible cognitive heuristic, called the Suppositional Procedure. Williamson’s Suppositional Conjecture has it that the Suppositional Procedure is humans’ primary way of prospectively assessing conditionals. This paper raises some doubts on the Suppositional Procedure and Conjecture.

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11. The Qualitative Thesis.David Boylan & Ginger Schultheis - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (4):196-229.
The Qualitative Thesis says that if you leave open P, then you are sure of if P, then Q just in case you are sure of the corresponding material conditional. We argue the Qualitative Thesis provides compelling reasons to accept a thesis that we call Conditional Locality, which says, roughly, the interpretation of an indicative conditional depends, in part, on the conditional’s local embedding environment. In the first part of the paper, we present an argument—due to Ben Holguín—showing that, without (...)

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12. Revisiting McGee’s Probabilistic Analysis of Conditionals.John Cantwell - 2022 - Journal of Philosophical Logic (5):1-45.
This paper calls for a re-appraisal of McGee's analysis of the semantics, logic and probabilities of indicative conditionals presented in his 1989 paper Conditional probabilities and compounds of conditionals. The probabilistic measures introduced by McGee are given a new axiomatisation built on the principle that the antecedent of a conditional is probabilistically independent of the conditional and a more transparent method of constructing such measures is provided. McGee's Dutch book argument is restructured to more clearly reveal that it introduces a (...)

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13. Triviality and the logic of restricted quantification.Nate Charlow - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-21.
This paper clarifies the relationship between the Triviality Results for the conditional and the Restrictor Theory of the conditional. On the understanding of Triviality proposed here, it is implausible—pace many proponents of the Restrictor Theory—that Triviality rests on a syntactic error. As argued here, Triviality arises from simply mistaking the feature a claim has when that claim is logically unacceptable for the feature a claim has when that claim is unsatisfiable. Triviality rests on a semantic confusion—one which some semantic theories, (...)

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14. Three Ways of Being Non-Material.Vincenzo Crupi & Andrea Iacona - 2022 - Studia Logica 110:47-93.
This paper develops a probabilistic analysis of conditionals which hinges on a quantitative measure of evidential support. In order to spell out the interpreta- tion of ‘if’ suggested, we will compare it with two more familiar interpretations, the suppositional interpretation and the strict interpretation, within a formal framework which rests on fairly uncontroversial assumptions. As it will emerge, each of the three interpretations considered exhibits specific logical features that deserve separate consideration.

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15. Indicative Conditionals: Probabilities and Relevance.Franz Berto & Aybüke Özgün - 2021 - Philosophical Studies (11):3697-3730.
We propose a new account of indicative conditionals, giving acceptability and logical closure conditions for them. We start from Adams’ Thesis: the claim that the acceptability of a simple indicative equals the corresponding conditional probability. The Thesis is widely endorsed, but arguably false and refuted by empirical research. To fix it, we submit, we need a relevance constraint: we accept a simple conditional 'If φ, then ψ' to the extent that (i) the conditional probability p(ψ|φ) is high, provided that (ii) (...)

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16. Epistemic Modal Credence.Simon Goldstein - 2021 - Philosophers' Imprint 21 (26).
Triviality results threaten plausible principles governing our credence in epistemic modal claims. This paper develops a new account of modal credence which avoids triviality. On the resulting theory, probabilities are assigned not to sets of worlds, but rather to sets of information state-world pairs. The theory avoids triviality by giving up the principle that rational credence is closed under conditionalization. A rational agent can become irrational by conditionalizing on new evidence. In place of conditionalization, the paper develops a new account (...)

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17. Probability for Epistemic Modalities.Simon Goldstein & Paolo Santorio - 2021 - Philosophers' Imprint 21 (33).
This paper develops an information-sensitive theory of the semantics and probability of conditionals and statements involving epistemic modals. The theory validates a number of principles linking probability and modality, including the principle that the probability of a conditional If A, then C equals the probability of C, updated with A. The theory avoids so-called triviality results, which are standardly taken to show that principles of this sort cannot be validated. To achieve this, we deny that rational agents update their credences (...)

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18. If P, Then P!Matthew Mandelkern - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (12):645-679.
The Identity principle says that conditionals with the form 'If p, then p' are logical truths. Identity is overwhelmingly plausible, and has rarely been explicitly challenged. But a wide range of conditionals nonetheless invalidate it. I explain the problem, and argue that the culprit is the principle known as Import-Export, which we must thus reject. I then explore how we can reject Import-Export in a way that still makes sense of the intuitions that support it, arguing that the differences between (...)

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19. The Logic of Conditional Belief.Benjamin Eva - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (281):759-779.
The logic of indicative conditionals remains the topic of deep and intractable philosophical disagreement. I show that two influential epistemic norms—the Lockean theory of belief and the Ramsey test for conditional belief—are jointly sufficient to ground a powerful new argument for a particular conception of the logic of indicative conditionals. Specifically, the argument demonstrates, contrary to the received historical narrative, that there is a real sense in which Stalnaker’s semantics for the indicative did succeed in capturing the logic of the (...)

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20. Necessary and Sufficient Conditions.Michael Shaffer - 2020 - In Introduction to Logic. Rebus.
This chapter introduces and discusses the concepts of necessary and sufficient conditions.

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21. The spectre of triviality.Nate Charlow - 2019 - Analysis 79 (4):595-605.
A spectre haunts the semantics of natural language — the spectre of Triviality. Semanticists (in particular Rothschild 2013; Khoo and Mandelkern 2018a,b) have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre. None, I will argue, have yet succeeded.

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22. Abominable KK Failures.Kevin Dorst - 2019 - Mind 128 (512):1227-1259.
KK is the thesis that if you can know p, you can know that you can know p. Though it’s unpopular, a flurry of considerations has recently emerged in its favour. Here we add fuel to the fire: standard resources allow us to show that any failure of KK will lead to the knowability and assertability of abominable indicative conditionals of the form ‘If I don’t know it, p’. Such conditionals are manifestly not assertable—a fact that KK defenders can easily (...)

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23. Generalized logical operations among conditional events.Angelo Gilio & Giuseppe Sanfilippo - 2019 - Applied Intelligence 49:79-102.
We generalize, by a progressive procedure, the notions of conjunction and disjunction of two conditional events to the case of n conditional events. In our coherence-based approach, conjunctions and disjunctions are suitable conditional random quantities. We define the notion of negation, by verifying De Morgan’s Laws. We also show that conjunction and disjunction satisfy the associative and commutative properties, and a monotonicity property. Then, we give some results on coherence of prevision assessments for some families of compounded conditionals; in particular (...)

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24. Indicative conditionals without iterative epistemology.Ben Holguín - 2019 - Noûs 55 (3):560-580.
This paper argues that two widely accepted principles about the indicative conditional jointly presuppose the falsity of one of the most prominent arguments against epistemological iteration principles. The first principle about the indicative conditional, which has close ties both to the Ramsey test and the “or‐to‐if” inference, says that knowing a material conditional suffices for knowing the corresponding indicative. The second principle says that conditional contradictions cannot be true when their antecedents are epistemically possible. Taken together, these principles entail that (...)

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25. Against Preservation.Matthew Mandelkern & Justin Khoo - 2019 - Analysis 79 (3):424-436.
Bradley offers a quick and convincing argument that no Boolean semantic theory for conditionals can validate a very natural principle concerning the relationship between credences and conditionals. We argue that Bradley’s principle, Preservation, is, in fact, invalid; its appeal arises from the validity of a nearby, but distinct, principle, which we call Local Preservation, and which Boolean semantic theories can non-trivially validate.

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26. Chancy Modus Ponens.Sven Neth - 2019 - Analysis 79 (4):632-638.
Chancy modus ponens is the following inference scheme: ‘probably φ’, ‘if φ, then ψ’, therefore, ‘probably ψ’. I argue that Chancy modus ponens is invalid in general. I further argue that the invalidity of Chancy modus ponens sheds new light on the alleged counterexample to modus ponens presented by McGee. I close by observing that, although Chancy modus ponens is invalid in general, we can recover a restricted sense in which this scheme of inference is valid.

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27. Cancellation, Negation, and Rejection.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen, Peter Collins, Karolina Krzyżanowska, Ulrike Hahn & Karl Christoph Klauer - 2019 - Cognitive Psychology 108:42-71.
In this paper, new evidence is presented for the assumption that the reason-relation reading of indicative conditionals ('if A, then C') reflects a conventional implicature. In four experiments, it is investigated whether relevance effects found for the probability assessment of indicative conditionals (Skovgaard-Olsen, Singmann, and Klauer, 2016a) can be classified as being produced by a) a conversational implicature, b) a (probabilistic) presupposition failure, or c) a conventional implicature. After considering several alternative hypotheses and the accumulating evidence from other studies as (...)

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28. A Puzzle about Knowing Conditionals.Daniel Rothschild & Levi Spectre - 2018 - Noûs 52 (2):473-478.
We present a puzzle about knowledge, probability and conditionals. We show that in certain cases some basic and plausible principles governing our reasoning come into conflict. In particular, we show that there is a simple argument that a person may be in a position to know a conditional the consequent of which has a low probability conditional on its antecedent, contra Adams’ Thesis. We suggest that the puzzle motivates a very strong restriction on the inference of a conditional from a (...)

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29. General Dynamic Triviality Theorems.Jeffrey Sanford Russell & John Hawthorne - 2016 - Philosophical Review 125 (3):307-339.
Famous results by David Lewis show that plausible-sounding constraints on the probabilities of conditionals or evaluative claims lead to unacceptable results, by standard probabilistic reasoning. Existing presentations of these results rely on stronger assumptions than they really need. When we strip these arguments down to a minimal core, we can see both how certain replies miss the mark, and also how to devise parallel arguments for other domains, including epistemic “might,” probability claims, claims about comparative value, and so on. A (...)

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30. Ifs, Ands, and Buts: An Incremental Truthmaker Semantics for Indicative Conditionals.Stephen Yablo - 2016 - Analytic Philosophy 57 (1):175-213.

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31. Stalnaker’s thesis in context.Andrew Bacon - 2015 - Review of Symbolic Logic 8 (1):131-163.
In this paper I present a precise version of Stalnaker's thesis and show that it is both consistent and predicts our intuitive judgments about the probabilities of conditionals. The thesis states that someone whose total evidence is E should have the same credence in the proposition expressed by 'if A then B' in a context where E is salient as they have conditional credence in the proposition B expresses given the proposition A expresses in that context. The thesis is formalised (...)

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32. Triviality For Restrictor Conditionals.Nate Charlow - 2015 - Noûs 50 (3):533-564.
I present two Triviality results for Kratzer's standard “restrictor” analysis of indicative conditionals. I both refine and undermine the common claim that problems of Triviality do not arise for Kratzer conditionals since they are not strictly conditionals at all.

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33. You can’t always get what you want: Some considerations regarding conditional probabilities.Wayne C. Myrvold - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (3):573-603.
The standard treatment of conditional probability leaves conditional probability undefined when the conditioning proposition has zero probability. Nonetheless, some find the option of extending the scope of conditional probability to include zero-probability conditions attractive or even compelling. This article reviews some of the pitfalls associated with this move, and concludes that, for the most part, probabilities conditional on zero-probability propositions are more trouble than they are worth.

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34. Intervention and the Probabilities of Indicative Conditionals.Michael Zhao - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy 112 (9):477-503.
A few purported counterexamples to the Adams thesis have cropped up in the literature in the last few decades. I propose a theory that accounts for them, in a way that makes the connections between indicative conditionals and counterfactuals clearer.

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35. What's wrong with logic?Rani Lill Anjum - 2012 - Argumentos 4 (8).
The truth functional account of conditional statements ‘if A then B’ is not only inadequate; it eliminates the very conditionality expressed by ‘if’. Focusing only on the truth-values of the statements ‘A’ and ‘B’ and different combinations of these, one is bound to miss out on the conditional relation expressed between them. All approaches that treat conditionals as functions of their antecedents and consequents will end up in some sort of logical atomism where causal matters simply are reduced to the (...)

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36. Counterfactual Triviality: A Lewis-Impossibility Argument for Counterfactuals.Robert Williams - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (3):648-670.
I formulate a counterfactual version of the notorious 'Ramsey Test'. Whereas the Ramsey Test for indicative conditionals links credence in indicatives to conditional credences, the counterfactual version links credence in counterfactuals to expected conditional chance. I outline two forms: a Ramsey Identity on which the probability of the conditional should be identical to the corresponding conditional probabihty/expectation of chance; and a Ramsey Bound on which credence in the conditional should never exceed the latter.Even in the weaker, bound, form, the counterfactual (...)

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37. Betting on conditionals.Jean Baratgin, David E. Over & Guy Politzer - 2010 - Thinking and Reasoning 16 (3):172-197.
A study is reported testing two hypotheses about a close parallel relation between indicative conditionals, if A then B , and conditional bets, I bet you that if A then B . The first is that both the indicative conditional and the conditional bet are related to the conditional probability, P(B|A). The second is that de Finetti's three-valued truth table has psychological reality for both types of conditional— true , false , or void for indicative conditionals and win , lose (...)

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38. Vagueness, conditionals and probability.Robert Williams - 2009 - Erkenntnis 70 (2):151 - 171.
This paper explores the interaction of well-motivated (if controversial) principles governing the probability conditionals, with accounts of what it is for a sentence to be indefinite. The conclusion can be played in a variety of ways. It could be regarded as a new reason to be suspicious of the intuitive data about the probability of conditionals; or, holding fixed the data, it could be used to give traction on the philosophical analysis of a contentious notion—indefiniteness. The paper outlines the various (...)

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39. Conditional Probability and Defeat.Trenton Merricks - 2002 - In James Beilby (ed.), Naturalism Defeated? Essays on Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. Cornell University Press. pp. 165-175.

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41. I take issue with two claims of DeRose: Conditionals of deliberation must not depend on backtracking grounds. ‘Were’ed-up conditionals coincide with future-directed indicative conditionals; the only difference in their meaning is that they must not depend on backtracking grounds. I use Egan’s counterexamples to causal decision theory to contest the first and an example of backtracking reasoning by David Lewis to contest the second claim. I tentatively outline a rivaling account of ‘were’ed-up conditionals which combines features of the standard analysis (...)