The Material Account of Conditionals and the Clash Between Intensional and Extensional Evidence

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Abstract
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, its propositional contents. Extensional evidence is non-intensional evidence. Someone can accept a complex proposition, but deny its logical consequences in two circumstances: (1) 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 proposition she accepts because she doesn’t know what the truth-values of its propositional contents; (2) when she accepts a proposition based on extensional evidence, but thinks that this evidence is insufficient to establish its logical consequences, which would require intensional evidence. It is argued that this tension is responsible for the counter-intuitive aspects of the material account of conditionals involving the negation of conditionals, hypothetical syllogism, contraposition and the inferential passage from disjunctions to conditionals (or-to-if). This tension is also behind some known puzzles involving conditionals, namely, conditional stand-offs, Adam pairs, the cheating partner example, jump-out conditionals, the problem of counterfactuals and the burglar’s puzzle. It is shown that this tension is always dissolved in favour of extensional evidence, since intensional evidence is defeasible, while extensional evidence is not. Thus, it is irrational to deny the logical consequences of an accepted proposition due to its reliance on intensional evidence and ignorance of its extensional evidence.
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First archival date: 2020-01-30
Latest version: 2 (2020-02-11)
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A Theory of Conditionals.Stalnaker, Robert C.

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