The Philosophy Brownbag on Wednesday, October 25, at12:15pm will feature our own Magdalena Kaufmann with a talk titled Conjunctions (in)forming Conditionals. The meeting is hybrid, in-person in the basement lounge of Manchester Hall and online via Zoom. Contact Stefan Kaufmann for login information.
Abstract: In many natural languages (including English), sentential conjunctions instantiating the schema `p and q’ can receive conditional interpretations similar to `if p, then q’ (“conditional conjunctions”). Empirical evidence from several languages suggests that this interpretation comes about when the first sentential conjunct is marked or interpreted as a topic. While this allows for a compositional interpretation of the phenomenon, it does not in itself explain puzzling restrictions on the kinds of conditional meanings that can be expressed by conjunctions: conditional conjunctions cannot normally be used to express generalizations and to make predictions about future sequences of events (roughly, generic and causal-like/metaphysical conditionals), but not to express epistemic conditionals (roughly, reasoning under uncertainty about current and past states of affairs). Special discourse settings can, however, overwrite this restriction and make conditional conjunctions felicitous as epistemic conditionals.