The Delicacy of Counterfactuals in General Relativity

Abstract

General relativity poses serious problems for counterfactual propositions peculiar to it as a physical theory, problems that have gone unremarked on in the physics and in the philosophy literature. Because these problems arise from the dynamical nature of spacetime geometry, they are shared by all schools of thought on how counterfactuals should be interpreted and understood. Given the role of counterfactuals in the characterization of, inter alia, many accounts of scientific laws, theory-confirmation and causation, general relativity once again presents us with idiosyncratic puzzles any attempt to analyze and understand the nature of scientific knowledge and of science itself must face.

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Erik Curiel
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

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