The Review of Symbolic Logic

Research Article

RAMSEY’S TEST, ADAMS’ THESIS, AND LEFT-NESTED CONDITIONALS

RICHARD DIETZa1 c1 and IGOR DOUVENa1 c2

a1 Institute of Philosophy, University of Leuven

Abstract

Adams famously suggested that the acceptability of any indicative conditional whose antecedent and consequent are both factive sentences amounts to the subjective conditional probability of the consequent given the antecedent. The received view has it that this thesis offers an adequate partial explication of Ramsey’s test, which characterizes graded acceptability for conditionals in terms of hypothetical updates on the antecedent. Some results in van Fraassen (1976) may raise hope that this explicatory approach to Ramsey’s test is extendible to left-nested conditionals, that is, conditionals whose antecedent is itself conditional in form. We argue that this interpretation of van Fraassen’s results is to be rejected. Specifically, we provide an argument from material inadequacy against a generalization of Adams’ thesis for left-nested conditionals.

(Received August 14 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY, UNIVERSITY OF LEUVEN, KARDINAL MERCIERPLEIN 2, 3000 LEUVEN, BELGIUM. E-mail: richard.dietz@hiw.kuleuven.be

c2 INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY, UNIVERSITY OF LEUVEN, KARDINAL MERCIERPLEIN 2, 3000 LEUVEN, BELGIUM. E-mail: igor.douven@hiw.kuleuven.be