An Indexical Theory of Conditionals

Dialogue 20 (4):644-664 (1981)
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Language theorists have recently come to have an increasing appreciation for the fact that context contributes heavily in determining our interpretation of what is said. Indeed, it now seems clear that no complete understanding of a natural language is possible without some account of the way in which context affects our interpretation of discourse. In this paper, I will attempt to explore one facet of the language – context relationship, namely, the relation between conditionals and context. The first part of the paper develops an account of truth for conditionals which allows them to depend on momentary features of the context in which they are uttered. In the second half of the paper, comparisons with other recent theories of the conditional will be considered. Particular attention will be given to the problem of whether the conditional really violates classical inferences such as Hypothetical Syllogism and Contraposition as has often been claimed in recent years.
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