Cognitive Science 41 (3):540-589 (2017)

Fabrizio Cariani
University of Maryland, College Park
Modus ponens is the argument from premises of the form If A, then B and A to the conclusion B. Nearly all participants agree that the modus ponens conclusion logically follows when the argument appears in this Basic form. However, adding a further premise can lower participants’ rate of agreement—an effect called suppression. We propose a theory of suppression that draws on contemporary ideas about conditional sentences in linguistics and philosophy. Semantically, the theory assumes that people interpret an indicative conditional as a context-sensitive strict conditional: true if and only if its consequent is true in each of a contextually determined set of situations in which its antecedent is true. Pragmatically, the theory claims that context changes in response to new assertions, including new conditional premises. Thus, the conclusion of a modus ponens argument may no longer be accepted in the changed context. Psychologically, the theory describes people as capable of reasoning about broad classes of possible situations, ordered by typicality, without having to reason about individual possible worlds. The theory accounts for the main suppression phenomena, and it generates some novel predictions that new experiments confirm.
Keywords Common ground  Stalnakerian pragmatics  Modality  Conditional sentences  Reasoning  Suppression effect  Strict conditional
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DOI 10.1111/cogs.12336
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References found in this work BETA

The Logical Basis of Metaphysics.Michael Dummett - 1991 - Harvard University Press.
Scorekeeping in a Language Game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.

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Citations of this work BETA

Experimental Philosophy of Technology.Steven R. Kraaijeveld - 2021 - Philosophy and Technology 34:993-1012.
The Oxford Handbook of Causal Reasoning.Michael Waldmann (ed.) - 2017 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Experimenting with (Conditional) Perfection.Fabrizio Cariani & Lance J. Rips - forthcoming - In Stefan Kaufmann, David Over & Ghanshyam Sharma (eds.), Conditionals: Logic, Semantics, Psychology.

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