What 'if'? A modal analysis of indicative conditionals

McCardel, Finlay (2024) What 'if'? A modal analysis of indicative conditionals. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Indicative conditionals - e.g. ‘If I was born in Glasgow, then I was born in Scotland’ - seem to express propositions. In other words, they seem to express thoughts that can be shared and evaluated as either true or false. For the past hundred years or so, analytic philosophers have commonly interpreted them as equivalent to disjunctions, e.g. ‘Either I was not born in Glasgow, or I was born in Scotland’. Those who dig a little deeper tend to agree that this is not quite right, but they often come to the conclusion that indicative conditionals do not express propositions at all. I argue for an alternative theory according to which indicative conditionals express a type of strict implication. What this means is that they are modal statements - e.g. ‘Necessarily, either I was not born in Glasgow, or I was born in Scotland’ - an idea that used to be quite popular despite striking many contemporary philosophers as radical. More specifically, I defend the idea that indicative conditionals express metaphysical necessity. I argue that this view respects our intuitions in an important way, and I show that it can be incorporated into a promising view of natural language conditionals more generally. Lastly, I argue that it also has plausible consequences for the related concepts of conditional probability, causal explanation, and risk.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
Supervisor's Name: Mcdonnell, Professor Neil, Carter, Professor Adam and Rieger, Dr. Adam
Date of Award: 2024
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2024-84118
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2024 15:42
Last Modified: 02 Apr 2024 15:44
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.84118
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/84118

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