Factual and counterfactual conditionals
- by Sunny Khemlani
- in News
- posted July 14, 2018
A new paper by Cristina Quelhas, Célia Rasga, and Phil Johnson-Laird describes the relation between factual conditionals and counterfactual conditionals.
You can access it here, and the abstract is here:
What is the relation between factual conditionals: If A happened then B happened, and counterfactual conditionals: If A had happened then B would have happened? Some theorists propose quite different semantics for the two. In contrast, the theory of mental models and its computer implementation interrelates them. It postulates that both can have a priori truth values, and that the semantic bases of both are possibilities: states that are possible for factual conditionals, and that were once possible but that did not happen for counterfactual conditionals. Two experiments supported these relations. Experiment 1 showed that, like factual conditionals, certain counterfactuals are true a priori, and others are false a priori. Experiment 2 replicated this result and showed that participants selected appropriate paraphrases, referring, respectively, to real and to counterfactual possibilities, for the two sorts of conditional. These results are contrary to alternative accounts of conditionals.