A dilemma for the counterfactual analysis of causation

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (1):62 – 77 (2003)
  Copy   BIBTEX


If we seek to analyse causation in terms of counterfactual conditionals then we must assume that there is a class of counterfactuals whose members (i) are all and only those we need to support our judgements of causation, (ii) have truth-conditions specifiable without any irreducible appeal to causation. I argue that (i) and (ii) are unlikely to be met by any counterfactual analysis of causation. I demonstrate this by isolating a class of counterfactuals called non-projective counterfactuals, or NP-counterfactuals, and indicate how counterfactual analyses of causation must appeal to them to account for the correct causal judgements we make. I show that the truth-conditions of NP-counterfactuals are specifiable only by irreducible appeal to causation. A dilemma then holds: if counterfactual analyses of causation eschew appeal to NP-counterfactuals they are empirically inadequate, but if they appeal to NP-counterfactuals they are circular and thus conceptually inadequate.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 84,108

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles


Added to PP

213 (#71,255)

6 months
3 (#248,868)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Stephen Barker
Nottingham University

References found in this work

Causation as influence.David Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
Real Conditionals.William G. Lycan - 2001 - Oxford, England: Oxford: Oxford University Press.
A Defense of Conditional Excluded Middle.Robert C. Stalnaker - 1980 - In William Harper, Robert C. Stalnaker & Glenn Pearce (eds.), Ifs. Reidel. pp. 87-104.
Philosophical Papers: Volume 2.David Lewis - 1987 - New York, US: Oxford University Press USA.
A causal theory of counterfactuals.Frank Jackson - 1977 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 55 (1):3 – 21.

View all 15 references / Add more references