Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 35–47 | Cite as

On some claims aboutif-then

  • Martin D. S. Braine


The paper has sought to show two things. One is that the apparent variety of Stalnaker and Lewis's counterexamples is misleading. Several of their examples are quite unsatisfactory because they depend on unguarded language behavior. There is in fact only one type of counterexample that is worth serious discussion, and that has the form of Barense's.

For Barense's example, I try to show that it fails as a counterexample to transitivity because one of the premisses is false within the context of the example. However, Barense's example is problematic for the Stalnaker-Lewis analysis, since their device for avoiding transitivity (rejecting the rule of conditional proof) does not in fact eliminate anomalous conclusions that can be drawn when both the premisses are taken as true.

In sum, there appears to be no good reason to doubt thatif is transitive, that the antecedent of a conditional can be strengthened, and that the contrapositive can be inferred. And the rule of conditional proof does seem to capture a commonly accepted form of argument in support ofif-then statements.


Artificial Intelligence Good Reason Computational Linguistic Apparent Variety Language Behavior 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin D. S. Braine
    • 1
  1. 1.New York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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