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Material Implication and General Indicative Conditionals

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Abstract:

This paper falls into two parts. In the first part, I argue that consideration of general indicative conditionals, e.g., sentences like If a donkey brays it is beaten, provides a powerful argument that a pure material implication analysis of indicative if p, q is correct. In the second part I argue, opposing writers like Jackson, that a Gricean style theory of pragmatics can explain the manifest assertability conditions of if p, q in terms of its conventional content – assumed to be merely (pq) – and the conversational implicature contents which utterance of if p, q may gain in certain contexts. I also defend the pragmatic approach against a recent objection by Edgington that appeal to pragmatics cannot explain what we are inclined to say about the believability conditions, as opposed to the assertability conditions, of indicative if p, q.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9213.00055

Affiliations: University of Melbourne, Australia

Publication date: April 1, 1997

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