It is widely agreed that contraposition, strengthening the antecedent and hypothetical syllogism fail for subjunctive conditionals. The following putative counter-examples are frequently cited, respectively:1

(Reliable John)

If John had made a mistake, it would not have been a big mistake.

Therefore, if John had made a big mistake, he would not have made a mistake.

(Wet Match)

If this match had been struck, it would have lit.

Therefore, if this match had been soaked in water overnight and struck, it would have lit.

(Hoover)

If J. Edgar Hoover had been a communist, he would have been a traitor.

If he had been born a Russian, he would have been a communist.

Therefore, if he had been born a Russian, he would have been a traitor.

...

The standard account of subjunctives – it is alleged – explains why these classical inference rules fail.2 On...

Article PDF first page preview

Article PDF first page preview
Article PDF first page preview
You do not currently have access to this article.