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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Monday, 7 March 2005


Possible worlds semantics for credulous and contraction inference

By Alexander Bochman

A possible worlds semantics is suggested for a broad class of nonmonotonic inference relations, including not only traditional skeptical ones, but also credulous and contraction inference. The semantics could be used to provide a canonical framework for studying and comparing different kinds of nonmonotonic inference.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 11:42 GMT
Updated: Monday, 7 March 2005 11:44 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

When Possibility Informs Reality: Counterfactual Thinking as a Cue to Causality

By Barbara A. Spellman & David R. Mandel

People often engage in counterfactual thinking, that is, imagining alternatives to the real world and mentally playing out the consequences. Yet the counterfactuals people tend to imagine are a small subset of those that could possibly be imagined. There is some debate as to the relation between counterfactual thinking and causal beliefs. Some researchers argue that counterfactual thinking is the key to causal judgments; current research suggests, however, that the relation is rather complex. When people think about counterfactuals, they focus on ways to prevent bad or uncommon outcomes; when people think about causes, they focus on things that covary with outcomes. Counterfactual thinking may affect causality judgments by changing beliefs about the probabilities of possible alternatives to what actually happened, thereby changing beliefs as to whether a cause and effect actually covary. The way in which counterfactual thinking affects causal attributions may have practical consequences for mental health and the legal system.

Current Directions in Psychological Science Volume 8 Issue 4 Page 120 - August 1999

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:11 GMT

Now Playing: REPOSTED
Topic: Counterfactuals

Counterfactual Thinking as a Mechanism in Narrative Persuasion

by Nurit Tal-Or, David S. Boninger, Amir Poran and Faith Gleicher

Two experiments examined the impact of counterfactual thinking on persuasion. Participants in both experiments were exposed to short video clips in which an actor described a car accident that resulted in serious injury. In the narrative description, the salience of a counterfactual was manipulated by either explicitly including the counterfactual in the narrative or by not including it. An examination of attitudes related to traffic safety supported the hypothesis that the inclusion of a counterfactual in narrative enhances the persuasive impact of the narrative. The first study (N= 50) demonstrated this effect in the short-term, and the second study ( N= 61) replicated the short-term effects while also demonstrating the temporal persistence of the initial changes in attitudes. Both studies highlighted potential limiting conditions of these effects. The first study showed that the impact of counterfactuals on persuasion is most potent when the self, rather than another person, is the focus of blame in the counterfactual. The second study revealed that attitude changes persist over time when the counterfactuals are self-generated, but not when they are spoon-fed to the participant. Results are discussed in the context of understanding the characteristics of counterfactual thoughts that enable them to enhance the persuasive impact of narrative.

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Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:10 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

Reason Explanations and Counterfactuals

By Robert M. Gordon

In evaluating conditionals concerning what a person would have done in counterfactual circumstances, we suppose the counterfactual antecedent to be true, just as in what I loosely term the standard "Ramsey" procedure; but then we follow a different path? a simulative path? in evaluating the consequent. The simulative path imposes an implicit restriction on possible worlds, a procedural guarantee that the individual simulated is aware of or knows about the counterfactual condition. This difference makes clear the way in which reason explanations are implicitly cognitive and psychological.
This implicit cognitivity has important consequences for conceptual development. If young children, even children of 2 or 3 years, follow the simulative path in interpreting counterfactuals about human action under counterfactual conditions, then they already give implicitly cognitive explanations. Their subsequent developmental task is chiefly to make explicit what they already ascribe implicitly. This will be is a process of subtraction, of shaving away some of the commitments a reason explanation makes.(...)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:12 GMT

Topic: Counterfactuals

Modals and a Compositional Account of Counterfactuals

By Nicholas Asher & Eric McCready

There are lots of modals that we might include in this account must, ought phi, should phi, all suggest universal quantifications over deontic possibilities while may, as Kamp (1973) suggested, introduces deontic possibilities. It's a delicate matter to ground the deontic alternatives in the epistemic possibilities (Asher 1987). But it appears that the following approach, on which we extended a dynamic semantics with a dynamic account of modals, can accommodate these modals as well. The semantics we have developed [here] handles both the modal subordination facts and Veltman-style update phenomena and it provides a compositional account of counterfactuals that has at least some pleasing features, including a connection to normality conditionals and the non-monotonic notion of inference that has come to be associated with them.

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Sunday, 4 December 2005 07:13 GMT
Sunday, 6 March 2005


Using Counterfactuals in Knowledge-Based Programming

By Joseph Y. Halpern & Yoram Moses

Knowledge-based programs, first introduced by Halpern and Fagin [and further developed by Fagin, Halpern, Moses, and Vardi, are intended to provide a high-level framework for the design and specification of protocols. The idea is that, in knowledge-based programs, there are explicit tests for knowledge. Thus, a knowledge-based program might have the form
if K(x = 0) then y := y + 1 else skip,

where K(x = 0) should be read as "you know x = 0" and skip is the action of doing nothing. We can informally view this knowledge-based program as saying "if you know that x = 0, then set y to y + 1 (otherwise do nothing)".
Knowledge-based programs are an attempt to capture the intuition that what an agent does depends on what it knows. They have been used successfully (...) both to help in the design of new protocols and to clarify the understanding of existing protocols. However, as we show here, there are cases when, used naively, knowledge-based programs exhibit some quite counterintuitive behavior. We then show how this can be overcome by the use of counterfactuals. In this introduction, we discuss these issues informally, leaving the formal details to later sections of the paper.

Source: CLE

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005 19:06 GMT

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Counterfactual conditionals and false belief: a developmental dissociation

By Josef Perner, Manuel Sprung & Bettina Steinkogler

The objective of this study was to explore factors that affect the difficulty of counterfactual reasoning in 3-5-year-old children and to shed light on the reason why counterfactual reasoning relates to understanding false belief [Cognitive Development, 13 (1998) 73-90]. Using travel scenarios, the difference between simple scenarios, in which each departure point led to exactly one destination, and complex scenarios, in which each of the departure points was cross-connected with all destination points, proved very important. In simple scenarios even 3 and 1/2 -year olds gave 75% correct answers to counterfactual questions, a level achieved on complex scenarios a year, and on false belief questions, irrespective of scenario, 1 and 1/2 years later. Since simple scenarios require the same kind of reasoning as complex scenarios, this calls into question the suggestion by Peterson and Riggs [Mind & Language 14 (1999) 80-112] that modified derivation is the common denominator for answering counterfactual questions and questions about false belief.

Keywords: Counterfactual conditionals; False belief; Conditional reasoning

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005 19:25 GMT


Causation and Counterfactuals

A recommended book

Edited by John Collins, Ned Hall and L. A. Paul, Published by Bradford Books

One philosophical approach to causation sees counterfactual dependence as the key to the explanation of causal facts: for example, events c (the cause) and e (the effect) both occur, but had c not occurred, e would not have occurred either. The counterfactual analysis of causation became a focus of philosophical debate after the 1973 publication of the late David Lewis's groundbreaking paper, "Causation," which argues against the previously accepted "regularity" analysis and in favor of what he called the "promising alternative" of the counterfactual analysis. Thirty years after Lewis's paper, this book brings together some of the most important recent work connecting--or, in some cases, disputing the connection between--counterfactuals and causation, including the complete version of Lewis's Whitehead lectures, "Causation as Influence," a major reworking of his original paper. Also included is a more recent essay by Lewis, "Void and Object," on causation by omission. Several of the essays first appeared in a special issue of the Journal of Philosophy, but most, including the unabridged version of "Causation as Influence," are published for the first time or in updated forms.

Other topics considered include the "trumping" of one event over another in determining causation; de facto dependence; challenges to the transitivity of causation; the possibility that entities other than events are the fundamental causal relata; the distinction between dependence and production in accounts of causation; the distinction between causation and causal explanation; the context-dependence of causation; probabilistic analyses of causation; and a singularist theory of causation.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005 19:04 GMT

Topic: Interconnections


By Jorg Guido Hulsmann

Ludwig von Mises emphasized that economics is the foremost political science of our age. As such, the clarification of the facts on which this science is built, and of the way political conclusions are based on them, is of the greatest practical importance.
The same spirit of a practical-minded interest for the epistemology and methodology of economic science motivates the present paper. I will argue that the nature of human choice jeopardises the mainstream approach to analysing human action, and then show that the difficulties of analysing choice can be overcome once it is recognised that a whole class of economic laws are counterfactual laws. They concern the relationship between what human beings actually do (their behaviour, their thoughts) and what they could have done instead. These laws can be applied in counterfactual analyses of the real world, which consist in comparing observed human behaviour and its unrealised choice alternatives in various (e.g., quantitative) terms.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 4 March 2005 19:05 GMT


Intertranslating Counterfactuals and Updates

By Mark Ryan & Pierre-Yves Schobbens

We recall that the Ramsey Rule can be seen as axiomatising the relationship of inverse accessibility relations which exists between the notions of update and counterfactual conditional. We use this fact to translate between postulates for updates and postulates for counterfactuals. Thus, Katsuno/Mendelzon?s postulates U1{U8 are translated into counterfactual postulates C1{C8 (theorem 6), and many of the familar counter-factual postulates are translated into postulates for updates (theorem 7). Our conclusions are summarised in table 5.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Saturday, 5 March 2005

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Contradictions and Counterfactuals:
Generating Belief Revisions in Conditional Inference

By Ruth M.J. Byrne & Clare R. Walsh

Reasoners revise their beliefs in the premises when an inference they have made is contradicted. We describe the results of an experiment that shows that the belief they revise depends on the inference they have made. They revise their belief in a conditional (if A then B) when they make a modus tollens inference (from not-B to not-A) that is subsequently contradicted (A). But when they make a modus ponens inference (from A to B) that is contradicted (not-B) they revise their belief in the categorical assertion (A). The experiment shows that this inference contradiction effect occurs not only for factual conditionals but also for counterfactual conditionals. However, reasoners revise their beliefs in factual conditionals more than counterfactuals.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 5 March 2005 09:22 GMT
Thursday, 3 March 2005

Topic: Interconnections

A Nominalist's Dilemma

By Otavio Bueno & Edward N. Zalta

Current versions of nominalism in the philosophy of mathematics have the benefit of avoiding commitment to the existence of mathematical objects. But this comes with a cost: to avoid commitment to mathematical entities, nominalists cannot take mathematical theories literally, and so, they seem unable to accommodate mathematical practice. In a recent work, Jody Azzouni (2004) has challenged this conclusion, by formulating a nominalist view that doesn't have this cost. In this paper, we argue that, as it stands, Azzouni's proposal doesn't yet succeed. It faces a dilemma to the effect that either the view isn't nominalist or it fails to take mathematics literally. So, in the end, it still doesn't do justice to mathematical practice. After presenting the dilemma, we suggest a solution for Azzouni's version of nominalism.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy
To appear in Philosophia Mathematica

Posted by Tony Marmo at 16:31 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 3 March 2005 16:41 GMT


Modulated Logics and Uncertain Reasoning

By Walter Carnielli & Maria Claudia C. Gracio

This paper studies a family of monotonic extensions of first-order logic which we call modulated logics, constructed by extending classical logic through generalized quantifiers called modulated quantifiers. We give an uniform treatment of modulated logics, obtaining some general results in model theory. Besides carefully reviewing the Logic of Ultrafilters and the Logic of Most, two new monotonic logical systems are introduced here: the Logic of Many and the Logic of Ubiquity, which formalize inductive assertions of the kind many and almost everywhere through new modulated quantifiers and, respectively. Although the notion of most can be captured by means of a modulated quantifier semantically interpreted by cardinal measure on sets of evidences, it is proven that this system, although sound, cannot be complete if checked against the intended model. This justifies the interest on a purely qualitative approach to this kind of quantification, what is guaranteed by interpreting the modulated quantifiers, respectively, as families of upper closed sets and pseudo-topologies. Modulated logics can be used to provide alternative foundations for fuzzy concepts and fuzzy reasoning, for reasoning on social choice theory, and for gaining a new regard on certain problems in philosophy of science.

Source: CLE

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 3 March 2005 08:01 GMT
Tuesday, 1 March 2005



By Richard G. Heck Jr.

Hartry Field has suggested that we should adopt at least a methodological deflationism:
We should assume full-fledged deflationism as a working hypothesis. That way, if full-fledged deflationism should turn out to be inadequate, we will at least have a clearer sense than we now have of just where it is that inflationist assumptions ... are needed.

I argue here that we do not need to be methodological deflationists. More precisely, I argue

[1] that we have no need for a disquotational truth-predicate;
[2] that the word true, in ordinary language, is not a disquotational truth-predicate;
[3] and that it is not at all clear that it is even possible to introduce a disquotational truth-predicate into ordinary language.

If so, then we have no clear sense how it is even possible to be a methodological deflationist. My goal here is not to convince a committed deflationist to abandon his or her position. My goal, rather, is to argue, contrary to what many seem to think, that reflection on the apparently trivial character of T-sentences should not incline us to deflationism.

To apper in Synthese, Volume 142, Number 3

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 March 2005 06:12 GMT
Monday, 28 February 2005


Unbound Anaphoric Pronouns: E-Type, Dynamic, and Structured Propositions Approaches

By Friederike Moltmann

In this paper, we have seen some fundamental problems with the E-type account as well as the dynamic semantic account. Whereas the crucial advantages of the E-types account were the preservation of the traditional notion of proposition with its truth conditions being independent of those of the previous discourse context, the advantages of the dynamic semantic account included the variable-like treatment of unbound anaphora, The present account incorporates both of those aspects:
[1] by using structured propositions which are meanings associated with individual sentence (though possibly with truth conditions that need to be supplemented by a background) and

[2] by using parametric objects thus giving justice to the variable-like status of unbound anaphora.

It accounts for the antecedent-relatedness and discourse-drivenness of unbound anaphora, the Regress Problem, the Same-Value Condition, and the problem of determiner choice, in essential the way the dynamic account does. The account moreover, did give some importance to the notion of context change, but in the sense that backgrounds of static means are determined by background contexts that themselves may change within the utterance of a sentence. The crucial empirical advantages of the present account over the dynamic account are that it gives a more immediate or better account of deviations from antecedent conditions and that it provides a solution to Barker's problem.

Source: Semantics Archive
To appear in Synthese

Posted by Tony Marmo at 07:36 GMT
Updated: Monday, 28 February 2005 07:38 GMT

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