What 'If'?

Philosophers' Imprint 14 (2014)
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Abstract

No existing conditional semantics captures the dual role of 'if' in embedded interrogatives — 'X wonders if p' — and conditionals. This paper presses the importance and extent of this challenge, linking it to cross-linguistic patterns and other phenomena involving conditionals. Among these other phenomena are conditionals with multiple 'if'-clauses in the antecedent — 'if p and if q, then r' — and relevance conditionals — 'if you are hungry, there is food in the cupboard'. Both phenomena are shown to be problematic for existing analyses. Surprisingly, the decomposition of conditionals needed to capture the link with interrogatives provides a new analysis that captures all three phenomena. The model-theoretic semantics offered here relies on a dynamic conception of meaning and compositionality, a feature discussed throughout

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2014-05-02

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W. Starr
Cornell University

Citations of this work

The Dynamics of Argumentative Discourse.Carlotta Pavese & Alexander W. Kocurek - 2022 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 51 (2):413-456.
Probabilities of conditionals in context.Justin Khoo - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (1):1-43.
Disjunctive antecedent conditionals.Justin Khoo - 2018 - Synthese 198 (8):7401-7430.
On the Meaning of 'Therefore'.Carlotta Pavese - 2017 - Analysis 77 (1):88-97.

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References found in this work

Scorekeeping in a language game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.
Philosophical papers.John Langshaw Austin - 1961 - New York: Oxford University Press. Edited by J. O. Urmson & G. J. Warnock.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Foundations of Language 13 (1):145-151.

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