In the Mood for If

Mathieu Vidal


This paper examines how moods are used in declarative conditionals. Contrary to what is usually defended in the literature, the divide between indicative and subjunctive is unable to account for all the possible cases present in natural language. Therefore, the analysis goes down to the level of the antecedent and the consequent to see what moods they can accept and what are their possible combinations. A formal semantics split into two layers is presented in order to model all these possible cases. The lower layer is the semantics of the conditional; the upper layer is the semantics for the indicative, subjunctive and conditional moods. Finally, it is shown that this proposal provides a unified solution to three puzzles: the Oswald-Kennedy example, the direct argument and the Gibbardian stand-offs.


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