Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Probability, Evidential Support, and the Logic of Conditionals [Special Issue]

Topics: Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophical logic, Philosophy of language
Keywords: conditionals, Evidential support, Probability, Suppositional, Transitivity


Once upon a time, some thought that indicative conditionals could be effectively analyzed as material conditionals. Later on, an alternative theoretical construct has prevailed and received wide acceptance, namely, the conditional probability of the consequent given the antecedent. Partly following critical remarks recently appeared in the literature, we suggest that evidential support—rather than conditional probability alone—is key to understand indicative conditionals. There have been motivated concerns that a theory of evidential conditionals (unlike their more traditional counterparts) cannot generate a sufficiently interesting logical system. Here, we will describe results dispelling these worries. Happily, and perhaps surprisingly, appropriate technical variations of Ernst Adams’s classical approach allow for the construction of a logic of evidential conditionals with distinctive features, which is also well-behaved and reasonably strong.

According to a very influential view, the assessment of a conditional statement amounts to the assessment of the conditional probability of its consequent given its antecedent. Put forward by Adams in the Sixties and Seventies (see Adams 1966, 1975), this idea has spread over the decades in many research areas in philosophical logic and the philosophy of language (see Bennett 2003 and Edgington 2020 for useful overviews), and ended up becoming a matter of substantial consensus in the psychology of reasoning (see Evans and Over 2004, and Oaksford and Chater 2010). In addition, it served as …


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