Stalnaker’s Hypothesis: A Critical Examination of Hájek’s Counter Argument

TitleStalnaker’s Hypothesis: A Critical Examination of Hájek’s Counter Argument
Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsDemir, Mehmet Hilmi
JournalKilikya Felsefe Dergisi
Pagination30 - 40
Date Published2017
KeywordsConditional Probability, Hájek, Probability of a Conditional Statement, Stalnaker, Triviality results

According to what is known as Stalnaker’s hypothesis, the probability of a conditional statement is equal to the conditional probability of the statement’s consequent given the statement’s antecedent. Starting with David Lewis, many have attempted to show that this hypothesis cannot be true for non-trivial probability functions. These attempts, which are known as the triviality results, cannot refute the hypothesis conclusively, because the triviality results usually rest on controversial assumptions such as the closure of conditionalization. In addition to the triviality results, there is one often cited argument against Stalnaker’s hypothesis that does not seem to rest on a controversial assumption. The argument is Alan Hájek’s 1989 reductio argument, which purportedly shows that Stalnaker’s hypothesis leads to outright contradiction. In this paper, I critically evaluate Hajek’s reductio argument and show that it is not a valid argument. His argument is simply an instance of the petitio principii fallacy. On the positive side, I argue that my critical evaluation of Hajek’s argument brings us one step closer to the reconciliation of the analytical and empirical examinations of Stalnaker’s hypothesis.

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