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Durham University

Psychology

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Publication details for Professor David Over

Over, DE, Manktelow, KI & Hadjichristidis, C (2004). Conditions for the acceptance of deontic conditionals. Canadian Journal Of Experimental Psychology-revue Canadienne De Psychologie Experimentale 58(2): 96-105.
  • Publication type: Journal Article
  • ISSN/ISBN: 1196-1961
  • Keywords: SELECTION TASK; PROBABILITIES; INFERENCE; UTILITIES

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Recent psychological research has investigated how people assess the
probability of an indicative conditional. Most people give the
conditional probability of q given p as the probability of if p then q.
Asking about the probability of an indicative conditional, one is in
effect asking about its acceptability. But on what basis are deontic
conditionals judged to be acceptable or unacceptable? Using a decision
theoretic analysis, we argue that a deontic conditional, of,the form if
p then must q or if p then may q, will be judged acceptable to the
extent that the p R q possibility is preferred to the p R not-q
possibility. Two experiments are reported in which this prediction was
upheld. There was also evidence that the pragmatic suitability of
permission rules is partly determined by evaluations of the not-p R q
possibility. Implications of these results for theories of deontic
reasoning are discussed.

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