- Publisher: Oxford University Press
- Format: Paperback | 236 pages
- Dimensions: 138mm x 210mm x 16mm | 322g
- Publication date: 9 February 2006
- Publication City/Country: Oxford
- ISBN 10: 0199285519
- ISBN 13: 9780199285518
- Edition statement: Revised ed.
- Illustrations note: Line drawings
- Sales rank: 1,300,773
Philosophers and logicians have long debated how best to understand conditional or hypothetical sentences. William G. Lycan has a distinctive approach to this debate, attending not just to the semantics of such sentences, but equally to their syntax. He shows how insights from linguistic theory help to illuminate problems about the meaning and function of conditionals. For instance, philosophers and logicians have had problems analysing the locutions 'only if', 'unless', and 'even if'. Lycan sets out a general semantic theory of conditionals which works for all such sentences; he assigns meanings to them in a way that explains how and why those meanings depend upon features of utterance context. According to Lycan's theory the 'if'-clauses refer to items called 'events', 'circumstances', or 'conditions'. Real Conditionals gives at last the definitive presentation of this original approach to a topic at the intersection of philosophy, logic, and linguistics. Lycan's characteristically lively and witty expository style ensures that it can be enjoyed by readers from all three disciplines.
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William Lycan is William Rand Kenan, Jr. Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina.
Review from previous edition There's a lot to like about this book, not least its witty, even charming, style. Lycan considers more examples, from more diverse sources, than most writers. The theory he presents is innovative and at least aims to be comprehensive. And of course there are some good arguments for it ... Real Conditionals is a great contribution to the literature, and if it causes more theorists to pay serious attention to Lycan's Event Theory, that would be an excellent consequence. The Philosophical Review
Table of contents
Preface, Acknowledgements ; 1. The Syntax of Conditional Sentences ; 2. Truth Conditions: The Event Theory ; 3. Truth Conditions: Reality and Modus Ponens ; 4. In Defense of Truth-Value ; 5. A Beautiful But False Theory of 'Even If' ; 6. An Unbeautiful But Less Easily Refuatable Theory of 'Even If' ; 7. The 'Indicative'/'Subjunctive' Distinction ; 8. The Riverboat Puzzle ; Appendix: 'Nonconditional Conditionals' (with Michael L. Geis) ; Revisionary Postscript on Nonconditional Conditionals ; Bibliography, Index