Formal Semantics and Philosophical Logic

[Online] Patricia Mirabile: Abductive conditionals as a test case for inferentialism

Speaker: [Online] Patricia Mirabile
Title: Abductive conditionals as a test case for inferentialism
Time: 16:00 - 17:30
Location: Online

This talk will be delivered in an online-only format, via the platform Zoom. To join the meeting, please click the following link:


Abstract. Inferentialism is a novel semantics of conditionals that posits that the truth of a conditional depends on the strength of the inferential connection between the antecedent and the consequent. Abductive conditionals are characterised by the existence of an explanatory relationship between the antecedent (the explanandum) and the consequent (the explanans). In the case of abductive conditionals, inferentialism predicts that the strength of the inferential connection will be determined by the quality of the explanation provided by the antecedent for the consequent. Other popular accounts of conditionals make contrasting predictions: a mental models inspired account predicts that it is the number of generated counterexamples that predicts the truth, or acceptance, of a conditional, while the suppositional account predicts that acceptance results from applying the so-called Ramsey test. In this talk, I present the results of two behavioural experiments in which we investigated those contrasting predictions, both at the level of abductive conditional statements and at the level of modus ponens arguments. I also hope to provide a small introduction to how the empirical methods of psychology can help us examine philosophical theories.