Three dogmas of 'if'

In A. Leirfall & T. Sandmel (eds.), Enhet i Mangfold. Unipub (2008)
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In this paper I argue that a truth functional account of conditional statements ‘if A then B’ not only is inadequate, but that 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. But this is not a flaw only of truth functionality and the material conditional. All approaches that try to treat conditionals as mere functions of their antecedents and consequents will end up in some sort of logical atomism where causal matters simply are reduced to the joint occurrence of A and B. What we need is a non-extensional approach to conditionals that can account for hypotheticality, potentiality, and dependency, none of which can be understood by looking to the antecedent or consequent per se.

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Rani Anjum
University of Tromsø (PhD)


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