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Krzyzanowska, Karolina; Collins, Peter J.; Hahn, Ulrike (2017): Between a conditional's antecedent and its consequent: Discourse coherence vs. probabilistic relevance. In: Cognition, Vol. 164: pp. 199-205
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Abstract

Reasoning with conditionals is central to everyday life, yet there is long-standing disagreement about the meaning of the conditional. One example is the puzzle of so-called missing-link conditionals such as "if raccoons have no wings, they cannot breathe under water." Their oddity may be taken to show that conditionals require a connection between antecedent ("raccoons have no wings") and consequent ("they cannot breathe under water"), yet most accounts of conditionals attribute the oddity to natural-language pragmatics. We present an experimental study disentangling the pragmatic requirement of discourse coherence from a stronger notion of connection: probabilistic relevance. Results indicate that mere discourse coherence is not enough to make conditionals assertable. (C) 2017 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.