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Time & Place

Branden Fitelson
Office: 132 Moses Hall
Hours: Tu/Th 2–4pm
Tel: 642–0666

234 Moses Hall (Dennes)
Tuesdays, 4–6pm

TOC: [Synopsis] [ Texts ] [ Requirements ] [ Website ] [ Tentative Schedule ]

Basically, the seminar will consist of a careful reading of Jonathan Bennett's recent book A Philosophical Guide to Conditionals, supplemented with some primary readings that he discusses. The primary readings will all be available in electronic fromat from this syllabus page. I will update the page as we go along, so keep an eye on this page throughout the semester. There are a few other books that might be worth mentioning (but won't be required for the course). Jackson's (1991) OUP collection Conditionals (now out of print) contains many useful primary articles (all of which are discussed by Bennett). Jackson's (1987) Blackwell monograph Conditionals (also out of print) is a nice sustained piece on conditionals. The Harper et al. collection Ifs (still available) is somewhat useful (but a bit older than most of the material we'll be looking at), and the Sanford volume on conditionals (also in print) is a nice overview of pre-1985 work on conditionals.

The seminar will break (roughly) into two parts. Part One of the seminar (about 7 weeks), which corresponds to chapters 1–9 of Bennett's book will be concerned with the pragmatics, semantics, logic, and epistemology of indicative conditionals (don't worry if you don't know the jargon -- we will learn that as we go along). Part Two of the seminar (about 8 weeks), which corresponds to chapters 10–23 of Bennett's book will be about subjunctive (or counterfactual) conditionals. The second part of the course will involve more metaphysics, but aspects of semantics and logic will also arise here (though not as heavily as in part one).

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The main text for the course is Bennett's book. Some primary sources will also be available, below, in electronic format. Most of these will be in Adobe PDF format. In order to read/print/search, etc. our PDF files (note: all the PDF files available here are fully searchable), you will need Adobe Reader 6 (or another reader that can read PDF version 6 files). I recommend that you download the latest version of Adobe Reader asap (it's free). See the tentative schedule, below, for all readings (both required and supplementary).

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Current course information can be found on the course web site, at:

The home page of our website is reserved mainly for announcements. The purpose of the other pages on our website should be self–explanatory. You should keep an eye on the course website, as it will be updated regularly with various content and announcements pertaining to the course. The only two computer applications you will need to view/print, etc. the content on our website are: (i) your favorite web browser, and (ii) Adobe Reader (version 6 or later, or – if you prefer – another program that can read Acrobat PDF version 6 files).

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Tentative Schedule (dynamically evolving and subject to change – so stay tuned!)

Week 1 : Overview of the "Conditionals Landscape" (Me)

Week 2: The Material Conditional: Grice & Jackson (Me)

Week 3: Jackson (Cont'd), and Lead-Up to "The Equation" -- Probabilities of Indicatives 1 (Me)

Week 4: "The Equation" -- Probabilities of Indicatives 2 (Me)

Week 5: The Subjectivity of Indicative Conditionals (Peter)

Week 6: Back to Chapter 5 (Alan Hájek)

Week 7: Indicative Conditionals Lack Truth-Values (Jennifer)

[I've decided to skip chapters 8 and 9 in the interest of covering more on subjunctives.]

Week 8: Subjunctive Conditionals — First Steps & `Closest Worlds' (Fabrizio)

Week 9: Unrolling from the Antecedent Time & `Forks' (Aaron)

Week 10: Reflections on Legality (Michael)

Week 11: Truth at the Actual World (Ellen)

[I'm skipping chapter 16, since we've done enough probability stuff!]

Week 12: 'Even If...' (Maile)

Week 13: Backward Subjunctive Conditionals (Nic)

Week 14: Subjunctive Conditionals and Time's Arrow (Nat)

Week 15: Support Theories (Kenny)

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