, Volume 84, Issue 6, pp 1229–1262 | Cite as

On the Ramsey Test Analysis of ‘Because’

  • Holger Andreas
  • Mario GüntherEmail author
Original Research


The well-known formal semantics of conditionals due to Stalnaker (in: Rescher (ed) Studies in logical theory, Blackwell, Oxford, 1968), Lewis (Counterfactuals, Blackwell, Oxford, 1973a), and Gärdenfors (in: Niiniluoto, Tuomela (eds) The logic and 1140 epistemology of scientific change, North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1978, Knowledge in flux, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1988) all fail to distinguish between trivially and nontrivially true indicative conditionals. This problem has been addressed by Rott (Erkenntnis 25(3):345–370, 1986) in terms of a strengthened Ramsey Test. In this paper, we refine Rott’s strengthened Ramsey Test and the corresponding analysis of explanatory relations. We show that our final analysis captures the presumed asymmetry between explanans and explanandum much better than Rott’s original analysis.



Thanks to Andrew Irvine, Hannes Leitgeb, and Hans Rott for very valuable comments on earlier versions of the paper. Special thanks go to the anonymous referees of Erkenntnis for challenging but very constructive comments. Moreover, we are grateful for the opportunity to present parts of this paper at the “2nd Munich Graduate Workshop in Mathematical Philosophy: Formal Epistemology” hosted by the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (LMU Munich). This research has been supported by the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences.


  1. Alchourrón, M. A., Gärdenfors, P., & Makinson, D. (1985). On the logic of theory change: Partial meet contraction functions and their associated revision functions. Journal of Symbolic Logic, 50, 510–530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bradley, R. (2007). A defence of the Ramsey Test. Mind, 116(461), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brewka, G. (1991). Belief revision in a framework for default reasoning. In Proceedings of the workshop on the logic of theory change (pp. 602–622). London: Springer.Google Scholar
  4. Chandler, J. (2013). Transmission failure, AGM-style. Erkenntnis, 78(2), 383–398.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dalal, M. (1988). Investigations into a theory of knowledge base revisions: Preliminary report. In Proceedings of the 7th national conference on artificial intelligence (AAAI-88), St. Paul (pp. 475–479).Google Scholar
  6. Fuhrmann, A., & Hansson, S. O. (1994). A survey of multiple contractions. Journal of Logic, Language and Information, 3(1), 39–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Gärdenfors, P. (1978). Conditionals and changes of belief. In I. Niiniluoto & R. Tuomela (Eds.), The logic and epistemology of scientific change (Vol. 30, pp. 381–404) Acta philosophica fennica Amsterdam: North-Holland.Google Scholar
  8. Gärdenfors, P. (1986). Belief revisions and the Ramsey Test for conditionals. The Philosophical Review, 95(1), 81–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gärdenfors, P. (1988). Knowledge in flux. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  10. Gärdenfors, P., & Makinson, D. (1988). Revision of knowledge systems using epistemic entrenchment. In M. Vardi (Ed.), TARK’ 88—proceedings of the second conference on theoretical aspects of reasoning about knowledge (pp. 83–95). Los Altos: Morgan and Kaufmann.Google Scholar
  11. Grove, A. (1988). Two modellings for theory change. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 17, 157–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Halpern, J. Y., & Pearl, J. (2005). Causes and explanations: A structural-model approach. Part I: Causes. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 56(4), 843–887.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hansson, S. O. (1991). Belief contraction without recovery. Studia Logica, 50(2), 251–260.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hansson, S. O. (1992). In defense of the Ramsey Test. Journal of Philosophy, 89(10), 522–540.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hansson, S. O. (1999). A textbook of belief dynamics. Theory change and database updating. Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hitchcock, C. (2007). Prevention, preemption, and the principle of sufficient reason. Philosophical Review, 116(4), 495–532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hume, D. A. (1739/1978). Treatise of human nature. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  18. Husserl, E. (Ed.). (1913). Ideen zu einer reinen Phänomenologie und Phänomenologischen Philosophie I. In Jahrbuch für Philosophie und phänomenologische Forschung (Vol. 1, pp. 1–323). Halle a.d.S.: Max Niemeyer.Google Scholar
  19. Leitgeb, H. (2010). Ramsey Test without triviality. Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, 51(1), 21–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Levi, I. (2007). For the sake of the argument: Ramsey test conditionals, inductive inference and nonmonotonic reasoning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Levi, I. (1988). Iteration of conditionals and the Ramsey Test. Synthese, 76(1), 49–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lewis, D. (1973a). Counterfactuals. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  23. Lewis, D. (1973b). Causation. Journal of Philosophy, 70(17), 556–567.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Makinson, D. (1987). On the status of the postulate of recovery in the logic of theory change. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 16(4), 383–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Ramsey, F. P. (1950). General propositions and causality. In R. B. Braithwaite (Ed.), Foundations of mathematics and other logical essays (pp. 237–257). New York: Humanities Press.Google Scholar
  26. Rott, H. (1986). Ifs, though, and because. Erkenntnis, 25(3), 345–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Rott, H. (2011). Reapproaching Ramsey: Conditionals and iterated belief change in the spirit of AGM. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 40, 155–191.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Spohn, W. (2006). Causation: An alternative. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 57(1), 93–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Stalnaker, R. (1968). A theory of conditionals. In N. Rescher (Ed.), Studies in logical theory (pp. 98–112)., American philosophical quarterly monograph series Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  30. van Benthem, J. (2008). Logic and reasoning: Do the facts matter? Studia Logica, 88, 67–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. van Benthem, J., & Smets, S. (2015). Dynamic logics of belief change. In J. Y. Van Ditmarsch, et al. (Eds.), Handbook of logics for knowledge and belief (pp. 299–368). Oxford: College Publications.Google Scholar
  32. Van Fraassen, B. (1980). The scientific image, Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy Oxford: Clarendon Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Woodward, J. (2003). Making things happen: A theory of causal explanation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaKelownaCanada
  2. 2.Ludwig-Maximilans-Universität MünchenMunichGermany

Personalised recommendations