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Indicative conditionals

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-X017-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 17, 2024, from

Article Summary

Examples of indicative conditionals are ‘If it rained, then the match was cancelled’ and ‘If Alex plays, Carlton will win’. The contrast is with subjunctive or counterfactual conditionals, such as ‘If it had rained, then the match would have been cancelled’, and categoricals, such as ‘It will rain’.

Despite the ease with which we use and understand indicative conditionals, the correct account of them has proved to be very difficult. Some say that ‘If it rained, the match was cancelled’ is equivalent to ‘Either it did not rain, or the match was cancelled’. Some say that the sentence asserts that the result of ‘adding’ the supposition that it rained to the actual situation is to give a situation in which the match was cancelled. Some say that to assert that if it rained then the match was cancelled is to make a commitment to inferring that the match was cancelled should one learn that it rained. This last view is often combined with the view that indicative conditionals are not, strictly speaking, true or false; rather, they are more or less assertible or acceptable.

Citing this article:
Jackson, Frank. Indicative conditionals, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-X017-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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