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The Epistemology of Indicative Conditionals: Formal and Empirical Approaches

Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press (2015)

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  1. Relevance and Reason Relations.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen, Henrik Singmann & Karl Christoph Klauer - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (S5):1202-1215.
    This paper examines precursors and consequents of perceived relevance of a proposition A for a proposition C. In Experiment 1, we test Spohn's assumption that ∆P = P − P is a good predictor of ratings of perceived relevance and reason relations, and we examine whether it is a better predictor than the difference measure − P). In Experiment 2, we examine the effects of relevance on probabilistic coherence in Cruz, Baratgin, Oaksford, and Over's uncertain “and-to-if” inferences. The results suggest (...)
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  • The Oxford Handbook of Causal Reasoning.Michael Waldmann (ed.) - 2017 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    Causal reasoning is one of our most central cognitive competencies, enabling us to adapt to our world. Causal knowledge allows us to predict future events, or diagnose the causes of observed facts. We plan actions and solve problems using knowledge about cause-effect relations. Without our ability to discover and empirically test causal theories, we would not have made progress in various empirical sciences. In the past decades, the important role of causal knowledge has been discovered in many areas of cognitive (...)
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  • Context-Indexed Counterfactuals.Mariusz Popieluch - 2022 - Studia Semiotyczne 35 (2):89-123.
    It is commonly believed that the role of context cannot be ignored in the analysis of conditionals, and counterfactuals in particular. On truth conditional accounts involving possible worlds semantics, conditionals have been analysed as expressions of relative necessity: “If A, then B” is true at some world w if B is true at all the A-worlds deemed relevant to the evaluation of the conditional at w. A drawback of this approach is that for the evaluation of conditionals with the same (...)
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  • Rational Relations Between Perception and Belief: The Case of Color.Peter Brössel - 2017 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 8 (4):721-741.
    The present paper investigates the first step of rational belief acquisition. It, thus, focuses on justificatory relations between perceptual experiences and perceptual beliefs, and between their contents, respectively. In particular, the paper aims at outlining how it is possible to reason from the content of perceptual experiences to the content of perceptual beliefs. The paper thereby approaches this aim by combining a formal epistemology perspective with an eye towards recent advances in philosophy of cognition. Furthermore the paper restricts its focus, (...)
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  • Probabilistic Entailment and Iterated Conditionals.A. Gilio, Niki Pfeifer & Giuseppe Sanfilippo - 2020 - In S. Elqayam, Igor Douven, J. St B. T. Evans & N. Cruz (eds.), Logic and uncertainty in the human mind: a tribute to David E. Over. London, UK: pp. 71-101.
    In this paper we exploit the notions of conjoined and iterated conditionals, which are defined in the setting of coherence by means of suitable conditional random quantities with values in the interval [0,1]. We examine the iterated conditional (B|K)|(A|H), by showing that A|H p-entails B|K if and only if (B|K)|(A|H) = 1. Then, we show that a p-consistent family F={E1|H1, E2|H2} p-entails a conditional event E3|H3 if and only if E3|H3= 1, or (E3|H3)|QC(S) = 1 for some nonempty subset S (...)
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  • A Probabilistic Truth-Conditional Semantics for Indicative Conditionals.Michał Sikorski - 2022 - Semiotic Studies 35 (2):69-87.
    In my article, I present a new version of a probabilistic truth prescribing semantics for natural language indicative conditionals. The proposed truth conditions can be paraphrased as follows: an indicative conditional is true if the corresponding conditional probability is high and the antecedent is positively probabilistically relevant for the consequent or the probability of the antecedent of the conditional equals 0. In the paper, the truth conditions are defended and some of the logical properties of the proposed semantics are described.
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  • Abduction.Igorn D. Douven - 2011 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Most philosophers agree that abduction (in the sense of Inference to the Best Explanation) is a type of inference that is frequently employed, in some form or other, both in everyday and in scientific reasoning. However, the exact form as well as the normative status of abduction are still matters of controversy. This entry contrasts abduction with other types of inference; points at prominent uses of it, both in and outside philosophy; considers various more or less precise statements of it; (...)
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  • Towards a theory of abduction based on conditionals.Rolf Pfister - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-30.
    Abduction is considered the most powerful, but also the most controversially discussed type of inference. Based on an analysis of Peirce’s retroduction, Lipton’s Inference to the Best Explanation and other theories, a new theory of abduction is proposed. It considers abduction not as intrinsically explanatory but as intrinsically conditional: for a given fact, abduction allows one to infer a fact that implies it. There are three types of abduction: Selective abduction selects an already known conditional whose consequent is the given (...)
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  • Ramsey’s Conditionals.Caterina Sisti & Mario Günther - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2).
    In this paper, we propose a unified account of conditionals inspired by Frank Ramsey. Most contemporary philosophers agree that Ramsey’s account applies to indicative conditionals only. We observe against this orthodoxy that his account covers subjunctive conditionals as well—including counterfactuals. In light of this observation, we argue that Ramsey’s account of conditionals resembles Robert Stalnaker’s possible worlds semantics supplemented by a model of belief. The resemblance suggests to reinterpret the notion of conditional degree of belief in order to overcome a (...)
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  • Relevance and Conditionals: A Synopsis of Open Pragmatic and Semantic Issues.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen - 2020 - In S. Elqayam, Igor Douven, J. Evans & N. Cruz (eds.), Logic and Uncertainty in the Human Mind: A Tribute to David E. Over. Routledge.
    Recently several papers have reported relevance effects on the cognitive assessments of indicative conditionals, which pose an explanatory challenge to the Suppositional Theory of conditionals advanced by David Over, which is influential in the psychology of reasoning. Some of these results concern the “Equation” (P(if A, then C) = P(C|A)), others the de Finetti truth table, and yet others the uncertain and-to-inference task. The purpose of this chapter is to take a Birdseye view on the debate and investigate some of (...)
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  • Relevance Differently Affects the Truth, Acceptability, and Probability Evaluations of “and”, “but”, “Therefore”, and “If–Then”.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen, David Kellen, Hannes Krahl & Karl Christoph Klauer - 2017 - Thinking and Reasoning 23 (4):449-482.
    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 (...)
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  • The Psychology of Uncertainty and Three-Valued Truth Tables.Jean Baratgin, Guy Politzer, David E. Over & Tatsuji Takahashi - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
    Psychological research on people’s understanding of natural language connectives has traditionally used truth table tasks, in which participants evaluate the truth or falsity of a compound sentence given the truth or falsity of its components in the framework of propositional logic. One perplexing result concerned the indicative conditional if A then C which was often evaluated as true when A and C are true, false when A is true and C is false but irrelevant“ (devoid of value) when A is (...)
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  • Norm Conflicts and Conditionals.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen, David Kellen, Ulrike Hahn & Karl Christoph Klauer - 2019 - Psychological Review (5):611-633.
    Suppose that two competing norms, N1 and N2, can be identified such that a given person’s response can be interpreted as correct according to N1 but incorrect according to N2. Which of these two norms, if any, should one use to interpret such a response? In this paper we seek to address this fundamental problem by studying individual variation in the interpretation of conditionals by establishing individual profiles of the participants based on their case judgments and reflective attitudes. To investigate (...)
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  • Conditionals, Individual Variation, and the Scorekeeping Task.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen, David Kellen, Ulrike Hahn & Karl Christoph Klauer - 2017 - Proceedings of Cognitive Science 39:xxx.
    In this manuscript we study individual variation in the interpretation of conditionals by establishing individual profiles of the participants based on their behavioral responses and reflective attitudes. To investigate the participants’ reflective attitudes we introduce a new experimental paradigm called the Scorekeeping Task, and a Bayesian mixture model tailored to analyze the data. The goal is thereby to identify the participants who follow the Suppositional Theory of conditionals and Inferentialism and to investigate their performance on the uncertain and-to-if inference task.
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  • Rethinking the Acceptability and Probability of Indicative Conditionals.Michał Sikorski - forthcoming - In Stefan Kaufmann, Over David & Ghanshyam Sharma (eds.), Conditionals: Logic, linguistics, and psychology. Palgrave.
    The chapter is devoted to the probability and acceptability of indicative conditionals. Focusing on three influential theses, the Equation, Adams’ thesis, and the qualitative version of Adams’ thesis, Sikorski argues that none of them is well supported by the available empirical evidence. In the most controversial case of the Equation, the results of many studies which support it are, at least to some degree, undermined by some recent experimental findings. Sikorski discusses the Ramsey Test, and Lewis’s triviality proof, with special (...)
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  • If P, Then P!Matthew Mandelkern - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (12):645-679.
    The Identity principle says that conditionals with the form 'If p, then p' are logical truths. Identity is overwhelmingly plausible, and has rarely been explicitly challenged. But a wide range of conditionals nonetheless invalidate it. I explain the problem, and argue that the culprit is the principle known as Import-Export, which we must thus reject. I then explore how we can reject Import-Export in a way that still makes sense of the intuitions that support it, arguing that the differences between (...)
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  • Bayes Nets and Rationality.Stephan Hartmann - forthcoming - In The Handbook of Rationality. Boston, Massachusetts, USA:
    Bayes nets are a powerful tool for researchers in statistics and artificial intelligence. This chapter demonstrates that they are also of much use for philosophers and psychologists interested in (Bayesian) rationality. To do so, we outline the general methodology of Bayes nets modeling in rationality research and illustrate it with several examples from the philosophy and psychology of reasoning and argumentation. Along the way, we discuss the normative foundations of Bayes nets modeling and address some of the methodological problems it (...)
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  • Talking About Worlds.Matthew Mandelkern - 2018 - Philosophical Perspectives 32 (1):298-325.
    I explore the logic of the conditional, using credence judgments to argue against Duality and in favor of Conditional Excluded Middle. I then explore how to give a theory of the conditional which validates the latter and not the former, developing a variant on Kratzer (1981)'s restrictor theory, as well as a proposal which combines Stalnaker (1968)'s theory of the conditional with the theory of epistemic modals I develop in Mandelkern 2019a. I argue that the latter approach fits naturally with (...)
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  • Williamson on Indicatives and Suppositional Heuristics.Franz Berto - 2022 - Synthese (1):1-12.
    Timothy Williamson has defended the claim that the semantics of the indicative ‘if’ is given by the material conditional. Putative counterexamples can be handled by better understanding the role played in our assessment of indicatives by a fallible cognitive heuristic, called the Suppositional Procedure. Williamson’s Suppositional Conjecture has it that the Suppositional Procedure is humans’ primary way of prospectively assessing conditionals. This paper raises some doubts on the Suppositional Procedure and Conjecture.
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  • Ranking Theory and Conditional Reasoning.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen - 2016 - Cognitive Science 40 (4):848-880.
    Ranking theory is a formal epistemology that has been developed in over 600 pages in Spohn's recent book The Laws of Belief, which aims to provide a normative account of the dynamics of beliefs that presents an alternative to current probabilistic approaches. It has long been received in the AI community, but it has not yet found application in experimental psychology. The purpose of this paper is to derive clear, quantitative predictions by exploiting a parallel between ranking theory and a (...)
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  • Conditionals, Counterfactuals, and Rational Reasoning: An Experimental Study on Basic Principles.Leena Tulkki & Niki Pfeifer - 2017 - Minds and Machines 27 (1):119-165.
    We present a unified approach for investigating rational reasoning about basic argument forms involving indicative conditionals, counterfactuals, and basic quantified statements within coherence-based probability logic. After introducing the rationality framework, we present an interactive view on the relation between normative and empirical work. Then, we report a new experiment which shows that people interpret indicative conditionals and counterfactuals by coherent conditional probability assertions and negate conditionals by negating their consequents. The data support the conditional probability interpretation of conditionals and the (...)
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  • Swahili Conditional Constructions in Embodied Frames of Reference: Modeling Semantics, Pragmatics, and Context-Sensitivity in UML Mental Spaces.Roderick Fish - 2020 - Dissertation, Trinity Western University
    Studies of several languages, including Swahili [swa], suggest that realis (actual, realizable) and irrealis (unlikely, counterfactual) meanings vary along a scale (e.g., 0.0–1.0). T-values (True, False) and P-values (probability) account for this pattern. However, logic cannot describe or explain (a) epistemic stances toward beliefs, (b) deontic and dynamic stances toward states-of-being and actions, and (c) context-sensitivity in conditional interpretations. (a)–(b) are deictic properties (positions, distance) of ‘embodied’ Frames of Reference (FoRs)—space-time loci in which agents perceive and from which they contextually (...)
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  • Learning From Conditionals.Benjamin Eva, Stephan Hartmann & Soroush Rafiee Rad - 2020 - Mind 129 (514):461-508.
    In this article, we address a major outstanding question of probabilistic Bayesian epistemology: how should a rational Bayesian agent update their beliefs upon learning an indicative conditional? A number of authors have recently contended that this question is fundamentally underdetermined by Bayesian norms, and hence that there is no single update procedure that rational agents are obliged to follow upon learning an indicative conditional. Here we resist this trend and argue that a core set of widely accepted Bayesian norms is (...)
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  • Putting Inferentialism and the Suppositional Theory of Conditionals to the Test.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen - 2017 - Dissertation, University of Freiburg
    This dissertation is devoted to empirically contrasting the Suppositional Theory of conditionals, which holds that indicative conditionals serve the purpose of engaging in hypothetical thought, and Inferentialism, which holds that indicative conditionals express reason relations. Throughout a series of experiments, probabilistic and truth-conditional variants of Inferentialism are investigated using new stimulus materials, which manipulate previously overlooked relevance conditions. These studies are some of the first published studies to directly investigate the central claims of Inferentialism empirically. In contrast, the Suppositional Theory (...)
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  • Evidential Support, Transitivity, and Screening-Off.William Roche - 2015 - Review of Symbolic Logic 8 (4):785-806.
    Is evidential support transitive? The answer is negative when evidential support is understood as confirmation so that X evidentially supports Y if and only if p(Y | X) > p(Y). I call evidential support so understood “support” (for short) and set out three alternative ways of understanding evidential support: support-t (support plus a sufficiently high probability), support-t* (support plus a substantial degree of support), and support-tt* (support plus both a sufficiently high probability and a substantial degree of support). I also (...)
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  • Cancellation, Negation, and Rejection.Niels Skovgaard-Olsen, Peter Collins, Karolina Krzyżanowska, Ulrike Hahn & Karl Christoph Klauer - 2019 - Cognitive Psychology 108:42-71.
    In this paper, new evidence is presented for the assumption that the reason-relation reading of indicative conditionals ('if A, then C') reflects a conventional implicature. In four experiments, it is investigated whether relevance effects found for the probability assessment of indicative conditionals (Skovgaard-Olsen, Singmann, and Klauer, 2016a) can be classified as being produced by a) a conversational implicature, b) a (probabilistic) presupposition failure, or c) a conventional implicature. After considering several alternative hypotheses and the accumulating evidence from other studies as (...)
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  • Indicative Conditionals: Probabilities and Relevance.Franz Berto & Aybüke Özgün - 2021 - Philosophical Studies.
    We propose a new account of indicative conditionals, giving acceptability and logical closure conditions for them. We start from Adams’ Thesis: the claim that the acceptability of a simple indicative equals the corresponding conditional probability. The Thesis is widely endorsed, but arguably false and refuted by empirical research. To fix it, we submit, we need a relevance constraint: we accept a simple conditional 'If φ, then ψ' to the extent that (i) the conditional probability p(ψ|φ) is high, provided that (ii) (...)
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  • The Logic of Conditional Belief.Benjamin Eva - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (281):759-779.
    The logic of indicative conditionals remains the topic of deep and intractable philosophical disagreement. I show that two influential epistemic norms—the Lockean theory of belief and the Ramsey test for conditional belief—are jointly sufficient to ground a powerful new argument for a particular conception of the logic of indicative conditionals. Specifically, the argument demonstrates, contrary to the received historical narrative, that there is a real sense in which Stalnaker’s semantics for the indicative did succeed in capturing the logic of the (...)
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  • How to Account for the Oddness of Missing-Link Conditionals.Igor Douven - 2017 - Synthese 194 (5).
    Conditionals whose antecedent and consequent are not somehow internally connected tend to strike us as odd. The received doctrine is that this felt oddness is to be explained pragmatically. Exactly how the pragmatic explanation is supposed to go has remained elusive, however. This paper discusses recent philosophical and psychological work that attempts to account semantically for the apparent oddness of conditionals lacking an internal connection between their parts.
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