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Evaluating Semantic Theories of Conditionals: Methodological Challenges

(Original title: Evaluating Semantic Theories of Conditionals: Methodological Challenges)
Filozofia, 79 (2024), 2, 168 - 183.
Type of work: Original Articles
Publication language: English
The article identifies a number of methodological problems encountered in testing and evaluating semantic theories of conditional sentences. Based on the background of three important theories, Material Implication Theory, Stalnaker’s Theory, and Adams-Edgington’s Suppositional Theory, I show what kind of data and criteria these theories have been working with. The fact that the theorists of conditionals disagree about which theory is the most adequate is related, among other things, to the lack of a broader agreement among them about the common theoretical and methodological criteria by which they would judge these theories. And although formally testing theories of conditionals does not differ from other scientific theories (since it relies on the HD-method or IBE), important differences can be discerned at the level of the auxiliary hypotheses and broader theoretical assumptions under-lying the testing. The results of the present analysis show that unless we agree on what we consider to be the crucial evidence and on which theoretical assumptions and values to ground the testing, we cannot be methodologically consistent in saying which of the theories has stood up better in the tests than the competing theories.

conditionals, counterexamples, Evaluation, Evidence, HD-method, semantic theories, testing

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