Subjunctive Conditionals are Material

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The material account claims that indicative conditionals are material. However, the conventional wisdom even among material account enthusiasts is that the material account cannot be extended to subjunctive conditionals. There are mainly three reasons that motivate this consensus: (1) the belief that if subjunctives were material, most subjunctive conditionals would be vacuously true, which is implausible; (2) its inconsistency with Adams pair, which suggest that indicative and subjunctive conditionals have different truth conditions; and (3) the belief that it is an inferior hypothesis compared to the possible world theories. I will argue against (1) that the counterintuitive aspects of vacuously true conditionals can be explained away in a uniform fashion, regardless of whether they are indicatives or subjunctives. I reinforce this assumption by showing that the positive arguments for the material account of indicatives are also intuitively valid for subjunctives. The point mentioned in (2) is resisted by explaining Adams pair as logically equivalent conditionals that can be appropriate at different times, depending of the speaker’s epistemic situation. Finally, (3) is criticised by making the case that the possible world account faces insurmountable problems and that a full-blown material account of indicatives and subjunctives is overall a more elegant solution.
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First archival date: 2020-01-30
Latest version: 12 (2022-02-14)
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