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2/17/16

Last Week
On Conditionals
GEM2006/GET1028 Guest Lecture
Theresa Helke
NUS PhD Candidate in Philosophy

A
Therefore, if B, then A.

Last Week
A
~ (B A)

Last Week
A
Therefore, if B, then A.
Let

B
~A
x

A be I will fail the exam.


B be I study for the exam.

I will fail the exam.


Therefore, if I study for the exam, then I will fail the
exam.

Last Week
A
Therefore, if B, then A.
Let
A be 2 + 2 = 4.
B be 2 + 2 = 5.

This Week
Three goals
(1) Show that the problem is not with us but with our
theory.
(2) Give you an understanding of the main theories
of conditionals.
(3) Convince you that one theory is better than
others.

2 + 2 = 4.
Therefore, if 2 + 2 = 5, then 2 + 2 = 4.

2/17/16

Outline

Some Preliminary Stuff

Part I
(1) Consider four theories of indicative conditionals.
(2) Defend one.

Part II
(1) Consider some paradoxes.
(2) Demonstrate that the suppositional view can
solve them.

What is ?
What is ?

Some Preliminary Stuff


Why does have the truth table it does?
A

AB

The Theories
Four main ones
(1) Nave view
(2) True plus view
(3) Possible worlds view
(4) Suppositional view

Let
A be You bring me durian
B be I will pay you SGD 30

The Theories
Can distinguish them by their position vis--vis
the following two propositions:
(1) is identical to . (Equivalence Thesis)
(2) A sentence S is assertible if and only if S is true.
(Assertibility Thesis)

The Theories
(1) is identical to .
(2)A sentence S is assertible if and only if S is
true.
View

(1)

(2)

Naive

True plus

Possible worlds

Suppositional

2/17/16

OVER TO YOU
(1)What are we talking about today?
(2)What do I mean by and ?
(3)How many theories are we looking at?
(4)How can we distinguish them?
(5)BONUS: What are the names of the theories?

What we will look at


(1)What do the theories say?
(2)Are they attractive?
(3)Do they fail? If so, how?

The Nave View


(1)What does it say?
Both the Equivalence and Assertibility Theses
are true:
is identical to

and
a sentence S is assertible if and only if S is true.

The Nave View


Equivalence Thesis
Just as A B is logically equivalent to A B, so
too is If A, then B logically equivalent to Not A, or
B.

Assertibility Thesis
Truth goes with assertibility.

The Nave View


(2) Is it attractive?
Yes.
Its nice if the Equivalence Thesis is true.
Its nice if the Assertibility Thesis is true.

The Nave View


(3) Does it fail?
Yes.

(i) If I study for the exam, then I will fail the


exam.
(ii)If 2 + 2 = 5, then 2 + 2 = 4.
(iii)If Angela Merkel is the Prime Minister of
Singapore, then Vienna is the capital of
Switzerland.

2/17/16

The True Plus View


(1)What does it say?
The Equivalence Thesis is true but the
Assertibility Thesis is false:

The True Plus View


Contra Assertibility Thesis
To be assertible, S must be not only true but also
conversationally appropriate (Grice, 1975).

is identical to

but
it is not the case that a sentence S is assertible if and
only if S is true.

The True Plus View


A sentence S is conversationally appropriate
where the speaker abides by the Cooperative
Principle (CP).
According to CP, the speaker must Make [her]
conversational contribution such as is required,
at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted
purpose or direction of the talk exchange in
which [she is] engaged (Grice, 1975, p. 45).

The True Plus View


(2) Is it attractive?
Yes.
Its nice if the Equivalence Thesis is true.
Its nice if the Assertibility Thesis is at least partially true.

The True Plus View


(3) Does it fail?
Yes.

(i) If I study for the exam, then I will fail the exam.
(ii) If 2 + 2 = 5, then 2 + 2 = 4.
(iii)If Angela Merkel is the Prime Minister of
Singapore, then Vienna is the capital of
Switzerland.
(iv)If Ben is not in the bar, hes in the library.

The Possible Worlds View


(1)What does it say?
The Equivalence Thesis is false but the
Assertibility Thesis is true:
It is not the case that is identical to

but
a sentence S is assertible if and only if S is true.

2/17/16

The Possible Worlds View


Contra the Equivalence Thesis
While the material conditional is truth functional,
the indicative conditional is not. Its modal, and
its truth value depends on the truth values of its
antecedent and consequent at other accessible
worlds (Stalnaker, 1968).

The Possible Worlds View


(2) Is it attractive?
Yes.
Its nice if the Assertibility Thesis is true.

The Possible Worlds View


(3) Does it fail?
Yes.

(i) If I study for the exam, then I will fail the exam.
(ii) If 2 + 2 = 5, then 2 + 2 = 4.
(iii)If Angela Merkel is the Prime Minister of
Singapore, then Vienna is the capital of
Switzerland.
(iv)If Ben is not in the bar, hes in the library.
(v) If Ben is taller than 2.5 meters, X.

The Suppositional View


Contra the Equivalence and Assertibility Theses
Conditionals are non-truth-functional and nonpropositional. We cannot know their truth value by
looking at a truth table, and they are not true or
false. Rather, we evaluate them by adding the
antecedent to our stock of beliefs then seeing
whether, with the addition, we would believe the
consequent. And we have epistemic attitudes toward
conditionals and are prepared to assert them
accordingly.

The Suppositional View


(1)What does it say?
Both the Equivalence and Assertibility Theses
are false:
It is not the case that is identical to

and
it is not the case that a sentence S is assertible if and
only if S is true.

The Suppositional View


(2) Is it attractive?
No and yes.

2/17/16

The Suppositional View


(3) Does it fail?
Not where the others did!

(i) If I study for the exam, then I will fail the exam.
(ii) If 2 + 2 = 5, then 2 + 2 = 4.
(iii)If Angela Merkel is the Prime Minister of
Singapore, then Vienna is the capital of
Switzerland.
(iv)If Ben is not in the bar, hes in the library.
(v) If Ben is taller than 2.5 meters, X.

Some Preliminary Stuff


What is modus ponens?
If A, then B.
A.
Therefore, B.

For example, let


A be Im at Marina Bay Sands
B be Im in the Downtown Core

Some Preliminary Stuff


When is an argument A logically valid?
When the truth of As premises guarantees the truth
of As conclusion, i.e. when the tree closes.

When is an argument A epistemologically valid?


When to the extent that we believe As premises, we
ought also to believe As conclusion. (Helke)

Outline
Part I
(1) Considered four theories of indicative
conditionals.
(2) Defended the suppositional view.

Part II
(1) Consider some paradoxes.
(2) Demonstrate that the suppositional view can
solve them.

Some Preliminary Stuff


What is modus tollens?
If A, then B.
Not B.
Therefore, not A.

For example, let


A be You are the Prime Minister of Singapore
B be You are Lee Hsien Loong

Some Preliminary Stuff


MBS argument is logically valid
AB
A
~B
~A
x

B
x

2/17/16

Some Preliminary Stuff


PM argument is logically valid

MBS argument is epistemologically valid.


If Im at Marina Bay Sands, then Im in the
Downtown Core.
Im at Marina Bay Sands.
Therefore, Im in the Downtown Core.

AB
~B
~~A
A
~A
x

Some Preliminary Stuff

B
x

Some Preliminary Stuff


PM argument is epistemologically valid.
If you are the Prime Minister of Singapore, then you
are Lee Hsien Loong.
You are not Lee Hsien Loong.
Therefore, you are not the Prime Minister of
Singapore.

OVER TO YOU
(1)What are we talking about in Part II?
(2)What is modus ponens?
(3)What is modus tollens?
(4)When is an argument epistemologically
valid?
(5)BONUS: What are the names of the logicians
who wrote the counterexamples?

The Paradoxes
The two we will look at are
(1) Vann McGees counterexample to modus ponens
(1985)
(2) Lewis Carrolls counterexample to modus tollens
(1894)

Vann McGees counterexample to


modus ponens
Context: 1980 US presidential election
Poll shows five things
(i) The Republican Ronald Reagan is in first place.
(ii) The Democrat Jimmy Carter is in second.
(iii)The Republican John Anderson is in third.
(iv)Reagan is substantially ahead of Carter.
(v) Carter is substantially ahead of Anderson.

2/17/16

Vann McGees counterexample to


modus ponens
(1)If a Republican wins the election, then if its
not Reagan, then it will be Anderson.
(2)A Republican will win the election.
(3)Therefore, if its not Reagan, then it will be
Anderson.

Vann McGees counterexample to


modus ponens
Solution: rewrite (1) as (1).
(1) has logical form (LF1) If A, then if B, then C but
we do not evaluate (1).
Rather, we evaluate (1) which has logical form
(LF1) If A and B, then C.
Seems right to rewrite (1) as (1) inasmuch as we
evaluate (1) rather than (1). And, when we do so, the
argument form ceases to be modus ponens. Hurray!

Lewis Carrolls counterexample to


modus tollens
Context: Barbershop in England? in 1894?
Story reveals three things
(i) There is a barbershop with three barbers: Allen,
Brown and Carr.
(ii) There must always be at least one barber in the
shop to man it.
(iii)Allan never goes out alone and always takes
Brown.

Vann McGees counterexample to


modus ponens
Logical form
(1) If A, then if B, then C.
(2)A.
(3) Therefore, if B, then C.

Vann McGees counterexample to


modus ponens
New argument form:
If (A and B), then C.
A.
Therefore, C.

Original argument form, i.e. modus ponens:


If A, then (if B, then C).
A.
Therefore, (if B, then C).

Lewis Carrolls counterexample to


modus tollens
(1)If Carr is out, then if Allen is out, then Brown
is in.
(2)If Allen is out, then Brown is out.
(3)Therefore, Carr is in.

2/17/16

Lewis Carrolls counterexample to


modus tollens
Logical form
(LF1) If A, then (if B, then C).
(LF2) Not (if B, then C)
(LF3) Therefore, not A.

OVER TO YOU
(1)How did we solve McGees paradox?
(2)What do the major premises of McGees and
Carrolls counterexamples have in common?
(3)As a suppositional view theorist, how would
you solve Carrolls paradox?

Other counterexample to modus tollens

Other counterexample to modus tollens

Seth Yalcin (2012)

John Cantwell (2008)

If there is a break-in, then the alarm always sounds.


It is not the case that the alarm always sounds.
Therefore, there is no break-in.

If you dont buy a lottery ticket, then you cant win.


You can win.
Therefore, you do buy a lottery ticket.

Summary

This Week

Part I
(1) Considered four theories of indicative
conditionals.
(2) Defended the suppositional view.

Part II
(1) Considered McGees and Carrolls paradoxes.
(2) Demonstrated that the suppositional view can
solve them.

Three goals
(1) Show that the problem is not with us but with our
theory.
(2) Give you an understanding of the main theories
of conditionals.
(3) Convince you that the suppositional view is better
than others.

2/17/16

Thank you.

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