‘If’ and ‘⊃ ’

P. F. Strawson

in Entity and Identity

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780198250159
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598470 | DOI:
 ‘If’ and ‘⊃ ’

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The view that the ordinary conditional ‘if p then q’ has the same meaning as the material conditional of standard truth‐functional logic confronts the more intuitive view that it imports, as part of its meaning, some ground‐consequent relation between antecedent and consequent clauses. Grice's powerful defence of the former position demonstrates that the operation of certain effective general principles of assertive discourse would normally ensure that the truth‐functional conditional carried a non‐conventional consequentialist implication. A defence of the contrary view rests on the fact that ‘p, so q’, which incontestably carries a consequentialist implication as part of its meaning, differs from ‘if p then q’ only in that the former conjoins asserted, the latter unasserted, propositions. There is plenty of occasion for the use of both ‘so’ and ‘if’. The balance of argument favours the consequentialist position.

Keywords: assertive discourse; conditional; consequential; counterfactual; inference; truth‐function

Chapter.  6122 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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