Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Conditional Reasoning – The Unruly Syntactics, Semantics, Thematics, and Pragmatics of "If" - Oxford Scholarship Online
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Conditional Reasoning: The Unruly Syntactics, Semantics, Thematics, and Pragmatics of "If"

Raymond Nickerson


Conditional reasoning is reasoning that involves statements of the sort If A (Antecedent) then C (Consequent). This type of reasoning is ubiquitous; everyone engages in it. Indeed, the ability to do so may be considered a defining human characteristic. Without this ability, human cognition would be greatly impoverished. “What-if” thinking could not occur. There would be no retrospective efforts to understand history by imagining how it could have taken a different course. Decisions that take possible contingencies into account could not be made; there could be no attempts to influence the futu ... More

Keywords: reasoning, human cognition, What-if, normative conditional reasoning, rational agent, human beings

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780190202996
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190202996.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Raymond Nickerson, author
Professor of Psychology, Tufts University, Medford, MA