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Intercultural Pragmatics

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Volume 15, Issue 2

Issues

Missing-link conditionals: pragmatically infelicitous or semantically defective?

Karolina Krzyżanowska / Igor Douven
Published Online: 2018-04-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2018-0004

Abstract

According to virtually all major theories of conditionals, conditionals with a true antecedent and a true consequent are true. Yet conditionals whose antecedent and consequent have nothing to do with each other—so-called missing-link conditionals—strike us as odd, regardless of the truth values of their constituent clauses. Most theorists attribute this apparent oddness to pragmatics, but on a recent proposal, it rather betokens a semantic defect. Research in experimental pragmatics suggests that people can be more or less sensitive to pragmatic cues and may be inclined to differing degrees to evaluate a true sentence carrying a false implicature as false. We report the results of an empirical study that investigated whether people’s sensitivity to false implicatures is associated with how they tend to evaluate missing-link conditionals with true clauses. These results shed light on the question of whether missing-link conditionals are best seen as pragmatically infelicitous or rather as semantically defective.

Keywords: conditionals; experimental pragmatics; logical/pragmatic responders; semantics

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About the article

Karolina Krzyżanowska

Karolina Krzyżanowska: is a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation of the University of Amsterdam. She obtained her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Groningen in 2015. Before coming to Amsterdam, she was a research fellow at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy and at the Center for Advanced Studies of the LMU Munich. Her research interests include semantics and pragmatics of conditionals, and their role in reasoning and decision making.

Igor Douven

Igor Douven (PhD Leuven) is a CNRS Research Professor at Sorbonne University, Paris. His current research is mainly in cognitive science, having to do with concepts, conditionals, and non-deductive inference. Previously, he worked in philosophy, especially in formal epistemology, philosophy of language, and philosophy of science.


Published Online: 2018-04-27

Published in Print: 2018-04-25


Citation Information: Intercultural Pragmatics, Volume 15, Issue 2, Pages 191–211, ISSN (Online) 1613-365X, ISSN (Print) 1612-295X, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ip-2018-0004.

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