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Krzyzanowska, Karolina; Collins, Peter J. and Hahn, Ulrike (2021): True clauses and false connections. In: Journal of Memory and Language, Vol. 121, 104252

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Indicative conditionals-that is, sentences typically, though not exclusively, of the form If p, (then) q,-belong to the most puzzling phenomena of language. One of the puzzles that has recently attracted attention of psy-chologists of reasoning stems from the fact that on the majority of accounts of indicative conditionals, If p, (then) q can be true, or at least highly acceptable, even when there is no meaningful connection between p and q. Conditionals without such a connection, dubbed missing-link conditionals, however, often seem very odd. A standard pragmatic account of their oddity rests on an observation that, whenever missing-link conditionals come out as true, these are situations in which speakers are justified in asserting stronger, more informative statements. Asserting a less informative statement is odd because it is a violation of the Maxim of Quantity. This paper reports four experiments that present a challenge to the Gricean explanation of why missing-link condi-tionals are odd. At the same time, we will argue that these findings can be reconciled with general principles of Gricean pragmatics, if the connection is treated as a part of a conventional, core meaning of a conditional.

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