Fatalism and the Logic of Unconditionals

  title={Fatalism and the Logic of Unconditionals},
  author={Justin Bledin},
In this paper, I consider a variant of the ancient Idle Argument involving so-called “unconditionals” with interrogative wh-antecedents. This new Idle Argument provides an ideal setting for probing the logic of these close relatives of if -conditionals, which has been comparatively underexplored. In the course of refuting the argument, I argue that contrary to received wisdom, many wh-conditionals are not properly speaking ‘unconditional’ in that they do not entail their main clauses, yet modus… 

Semantic Theories of Questions

  • F. Roelofsen
  • Philosophy
    Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics
  • 2019
This survey article discusses two basic issues that semantic theories of questions face. The first is how to conceptualize and formally represent the semantic content of questions. This issue arises

Theoretical Linguistics

It is widely agreed that conditionals of the form ‘if p, q’ come with one of two types of marking: they are either subjunctive or indicative. What does this difference tell us about the conditionals’

Indicative Conditionals and Graded Information

An account of indicative conditionals that combines features of minimal change semantics and information semantics, and captures three important facts: that a conditional is logically independent from its antecedent; that a sequence of antecedents behaves like a single conjunctive antecedence; and that conditionals restrict the quantification domain of epistemic modals.

A Counterexample to Modus Ponenses

McGee (1985) argued that modus ponens was invalid for the natural language conditional ‘If…then…’. Many subsequent responses have argued that, while McGee’s examples show that modus ponens fails to

Modals and conditionals

Modals (‘It might rain’; ‘You must eat a cookie’; ‘I can fly’) and conditionals (‘If it rains, the picnic will be canceled’; ‘If you want a cookie, let me know’; ‘If I had wings, I would have been

Restriction without Quantification: Embedding and Probability for Indicative Conditionals

Many modern theories of indicative conditionals treat them as restricted epistemic necessity modals. This view, however, faces two problems. First, indicative conditionals do not behave like

Indefinites and free choice

It is shown that an integration between formal semantics and historical linguistics is fruitful and worth pursuing and the compatibility of the diachronic study with formal accounts of free choice inferences with a focus on Alternative Semantics analyses for indefinite pronouns.

Modus and the Logic Decision

Some time in 2013 I came to accept that the best thing for me was to quit smoking, and there was an argument to a very different conclusion, but with a surprisingly plausible claim to logical soundness.

Michael Dummett, Reasons to Act, and Bringing About the Past

My intention in this paper is to outline and criticise some of the main ideas in Michael Dummett’s classic article “Bringing about the Past”. From Dummett’s remarks we can (I think) reconstruct two


There has been a recent surge of work on deontic modality within philosophy of language. This work has put the deontic logic tradition in contact with natural language semantics, resulting in



One's Modus Ponens: Modality, Coherence and Logic

A semantics for modality with the resources to accommodate the puzzling data while preserving classical logic is offered, thus affirming the tradition that modals express ordinary truth-conditional content.

Inquisitive Semantics

There is an age-old tradition in linguistics and philosophy to identify the meaning of a entence with its truth-conditions. This can be explained by the fact that linguistic and philosophical

New surprises for the Ramsey Test

A double-indexed Update Semantics for conditionals is developed which takes Thomason Conditionals and Moore's Paradox into account and is extended to cover some further phenomena, including the recent observation that epistemic modal operators give rise to something very like, but also very unlike, Moore’s Paradox.

Changing the Modal Context

Conditionals that contain a modality in the consequent give rise to a particular semantic phenomenon whereby the antecedent of the conditional blocks possibilities when interpreting the modality in

Ifs and Oughts

A We consider a paradox involving indicative conditionals ('ifs') and deontic modals ('oughts'). After considering and rejecting several standard options for resolving the paradox—including

Two Recent Theories of Conditionals

Two new and fundamentally different accounts of conditionals and their logic have been put forth, one based on nearness of possible worlds and the other based on subjective conditional probabilities, but each has an important application to natural language, or so I shall argue.

A note on Gibbard’s proof

A proof by Allan Gibbard (Ifs: Conditionals, beliefs, decision, chance, time. Reidel, Dordrecht, 1981) seems to demonstrate that if indicative conditionals have truth conditions, they cannot be

A Flexible Contextualist Account of Epistemic Modals

© 2011 J.L. Dowell O n Kratzer’s canonical account, modal expressions (like ‘might’ and ‘must’) are represented semantically as quantifiers over possibilities. Such expressions are themselves

Unifying if-conditionals and unconditionals

An analysis is developed that treats “if”-conditionals and unconditionals as exactly the same species of adjunct that serve semantically to restrict the domains of operators in their scope.

Discourse Contextualism: A Framework for Contextualist Semantics and Pragmatics

representations of contexts, recall, assign specific values to variables (§3.3.6). This includes the standards variable s. Hence the inductive premise is false given any abstract context c. (For