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The Probability of Conditionals: The Psychological Evidence

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Abstract: 

The two main psychological theories of the ordinary conditional were designed to account for inferences made from assumptions, but few premises in everyday life can be simply assumed true. Useful premises usually have a probability that is less than certainty. But what is the probability of the ordinary conditional and how is it determined? We argue that people use a two stage Ramsey test that we specify to make probability judgements about indicative conditionals in natural language, and we describe experiments that support this conclusion. Our account can explain why most people give the conditional probability as the probability of the conditional, but also why some give the conjunctive probability. We discuss how our psychological work is related to the analysis of ordinary indicative conditionals in philosophical logic.
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Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: University of Sunderland, UK

Publication date: 2003-09-01

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