A Contextualist Defence of the Material Account of Indicative Conditionals


The material account of indicative conditionals faces a legion of counterexamples that are the bread and butter in any entry about the subject. For this reason, the material account is widely unpopular among conditional experts. I will argue that this consensus was not built on solid foundations, since these counterexamples are contextual fallacies. They ignore a basic tenet of semantics according to which when evaluating arguments for validity we need to maintain the context constant, otherwise any argumentative form can be rendered invalid. If we maintain the context fixed, the counterexamples to the material account are disarmed. Throughout the paper I also consider the ramifications of this defence, make suggestions to prevent contextual fallacies, and anticipate some possible misunderstandings and objections.



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