New Work on the Conditional Fallacy

I have serious interests in the conditional fallacy, and just noticed that Dan Bonevac, Josh Dever, and CD’s David Sosa have a draft of a joint-authored paper on the logical structure of the fallacy here. It’s not epistemology, but the implications for epistemology are significant enough to make it worth mentioning.

The context of discussion is the conditional analysis of dispositions and finkish disposition counterexamples to such an account.

The concept of finking is from C.B. Martin, and David Lewis, who apparently published on everything interesting, thought he could rescue the conditional analysis from the grip of the finks. I’m one who contributed to the literature on the subject, arguing that Lewis’s rescue attempt doesn’t work. What’s interesting here for me is that the draft includes a canonical test for determining whether an argument that a particular analysis commits the fallacy has succeeded. For the curious, here it is:

(The Canonical Test) Suppose a conditional fallacy argument is advanced, with a certain justification J being given, by way of meeting the possibility condition, for the co-possibility of A and B. Let A’, B’, and J’ be the result of replacing all mention of the dispositional property with mention of the purported analyzing conditional. If the resulting justification J’ suffices to make plausible the co-possibility of A’ and B’, then the conditional fallacy argument fails.

So, sadly I report, you’ll have to read the paper to interpret, and even after you do, there’s no catchy take-away slogan… But it advertises to be a way of defending that some conditional analyses do not succumb to the fallacy.


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