# The paradox of the raven and Kratzer's account of "if-then"

I have just read Angelika Kratzer's paper "Conditionals". In this paper Kratzer rejects the traditional account of the "if-then" construction in English as a two-place material implication operator, in favor of a new interpretation of "if" as a modal scope modifier.

It seems to me that this account might provide an alternative resolution to Hempel's raven paradox. It appears to me that this paradox arises precisely because of a confusion between quantifiers and material implication: the statement "all ravens are black" is taken to be equivalent to "for each x, if x is a raven, then x is black"; then by the contrapositive to "for each x, if x is not black, then x is not a raven". The paradox is that in this form, observing a green apple becomes evidence for the original claim about ravens.

I think Kratzer's account would have something to say about the first transformation, in which the quantifier is recast as an if-then form which is then interpreted as a material implication.

I am most interested in references to the literature, but I would also be glad to see a summary discussion.

• It would be good if you could say more of how you think Kratzer's paper bears on the raven's paradox. As I read her, "If p then q" is true in those possible worlds in which all accessible p-worlds are also q-worlds. There is, that I can see, no suggestion that "All ravens are black" should not be analyzed as meaning "If something is a raven then it is black". Jun 29 '12 at 15:22
• And you have me backwards :) As I wrote above, I don't find any reason to think that Kratzer would object to the treatment of that quantified sentence in terms of conditionals. Letting that pass, if you do interpret it that way, Kratzer's analysis does not seem to help: "If something is a raven, it is black" is true because in all (accessible) possible worlds in which something is a raven, it is black. By the same token, "If something is not black then it's not a raven" is true in K's analysis because in all accessible pos. worlds if something is not black it's not a raven. Jun 29 '12 at 15:38
• Note that any theory that interprets conditions using one of the strict implications will interpret it as having modal scope, since you can express strict implication using material implication and modalities. Nov 8 '12 at 8:46