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The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 116, Issue 6, June 2019

Simon Goldstein
Pages 293-318
DOI: 10.5840/jphil2019116620

A Theory of Conditional Assertion

According to one tradition, uttering an indicative conditional involves performing a special sort of speech act: a conditional assertion. We introduce a formal framework that models this speech act. Using this framework, we show that any theory of conditional assertion validates several inferences in the logic of conditionals, including the False Antecedent inference (that not A implies if A, then C). Next, we determine the space of truth-conditional semantics for conditionals consistent with conditional assertion. The truth value of any such conditional is settled whenever the antecedent is false, and whenever the antecedent is true and the consequent is false. Then, we consider the space of dynamic meanings consistent with the theory of conditional assertion. We develop a new family of dynamic conditional-assertion operators that combine a traditional test operator with an update operation.

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