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Minds, Ethics, and ConditionalsThemes from the Philosophy of Frank Jackson$
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Ian Ravenscroft

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199267989

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199267989.001.0001

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Conditionals, Truth, and Assertion

Conditionals, Truth, and Assertion

(p.283) 12 Conditionals, Truth, and Assertion
Minds, Ethics, and Conditionals

Dorothy Edgington (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that the conditional probability of the consequent given the antecedent is crucial to understanding indicative conditionals. However, unlike Jackson, it denies that the truth value of an indicative conditional is given by the corresponding material conditional. To begin with are the difficulties that embedded conditionals (i.e. conditionals which have conditional antecedents and/or consequents) present to Jackson. Jackson is aware that embedded conditionals present problems to his approach, and argues that ‘If A then (if B then C)’ is regarded by English users as interchangeable with ‘If (A and B) then C’. Since the latter contains no embedded conditionals, the problem is avoided. However, the proposed solution fails to generalize in satisfactory ways to connectives like ‘but’ and ‘even’. In addition, Jackson's approach to conditionals is restricted to conditionals used to make assertions, and does not readily generalize to conditionals used in other kinds of speech acts. The response to the difficulties with taking the material conditional as giving the truth conditions for the indicative conditional is not to seek an alternative, more satisfactory account of the truth conditions of indicative conditionals; rather, the chapter endorses the ‘no truth conditions’ position originally proposed by Ernest Adams.

Keywords:   conditionals, Frank Jackson, truth conditions, Ernest Adams

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