Conditionals

Couverture
MIT Press, 4 mai 2007 - 260 pages

A unified treatment of conditionals based on epistemological principles rather than the semantical principles in vogue over recent decades.

This book by distinguished philosopher Nicholas Rescher seeks to clarify the idea of what a conditional says by elucidating the information that is normally transmitted by its utterance. The result is a unified treatment of conditionals based on epistemological principles rather than the semantical principles in vogue over recent decades. This approach, argues Rescher, makes it easier to understand how conditionals actually function in our thought and discourse. In its concern with what language theorists call pragmatics—the study of the norms and principles governing our use of language in conveying information—Conditionals steps beyond the limits of logic as traditionally understood and moves into the realm claimed by theorists of artificial intelligence as they try to simulate our actual information-processing practices. The book's treatment of counterfactuals essentially revives an epistemological approach proposed by F. P. Ramsey in the 1920s and developed by Rescher himself in the 1960s but since overshadowed by the now-dominant possible-worlds approach. Rescher argues that the increasingly evident liabilities of the possible-worlds strategy make a reappraisal of the older style of analysis both timely and desirable. As the book makes clear, an epistemological approach demonstrates that counterfactual reasoning, unlike inductive inference, is not a matter of abstract reasoning alone but one of good judgment and common sense.

 

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Table des matières

1 Fundamentals
1
2 Matters of Aspect
15
3 Modes of Implication
31
4 Conditional Complications
51
5 Doxastic Implication and Plausibility
59
6 Inferentially Insuperable Boundaries and Homogeneous Conditionals
67
7 Counterfactual Conditionals and Their Problematic Nature
73
8 Salience and Questioners Prerogative
89
11 Some Logical Features of Counterfactuals
149
12 Variant Analyses of Counterfactuals
161
13 Historical Counterfactuals
177
14 Per impossibile Counterfactuals and Reductio ad absurdum Conditionals
185
15 Problems with Possible Worlds
195
Conclusion
217
Notes
221
References
231

9 On Validating Counterfactuals
103
10 Further Complications of Counterfactuality
139
Name Index
243
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À propos de l'auteur (2007)

Nicholas Rescher is University Professor of Philosophy and Chairman of the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. In the course of a long and distinguished academic career, he has published more than three hundred articles in scholarly journals, has contributed to many encyclopedias and reference works, and has written some hundred books in various areas of philosophy, including epistemology, metaphysics, value theory and social philosophy, logic, the philosophy of science, and the history of philosophy.

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