Relevance differently affects the truth, acceptability, and probability evaluations of “and”, “but”, “therefore”, and “if–then”

Thinking and Reasoning 23 (4):449-482 (2017)
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Abstract

In this study we investigate the influence of reason-relation readings of indicative conditionals and ‘and’/‘but’/‘therefore’ sentences on various cognitive assessments. According to the Frege-Grice tradition, a dissociation is expected. Specifically, differences in the reason-relation reading of these sentences should affect participants’ evaluations of their acceptability but not of their truth value. In two experiments we tested this assumption by introducing a relevance manipulation into the truth-table task as well as in other tasks assessing the participants’ acceptability and probability evaluations. Across the two experiments a strong dissociation was found. The reason-relation reading of all four sentences strongly affected their probability and acceptability evaluations, but hardly affected their respective truth evaluations. Implications of this result for recent work on indicative conditionals are discussed.

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Niels Skovgaard-Olsen
University of Freiburg

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