Motivating the Causal Modeling Semantics of Counterfactuals, or, Why We Should Favor the Causal Modeling Semantics over the Possible-Worlds Semantics

In Syraya Chin-Mu Yang, Duen-Min Deng & Hanti Lin (eds.), Structural Analysis of Non-Classical Logics The Proceedings of the Second Taiwan Philosophical Logic Colloquium. Springer. pp. 83-110 (2016)
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Philosophers have long analyzed the truth-condition of counterfactual conditionals in terms of the possible-worlds semantics advanced by Lewis [13] and Stalnaker [23]. In this paper, I argue that, from the perspective of philosophical semantics, the causal modeling semantics proposed by Pearl [17] and others (e.g., Briggs [3]) is more plausible than the Lewis-Stalnaker possible-worlds semantics. I offer two reasons. First, the possible-worlds semantics has suffered from a specific type of counterexamples. While the causal modeling semantics can handle such examples with ease, the only way for the possible-worlds semantics to do so seems to cost it its distinctive status as a philosophical semantics. Second, the causal modeling semantics, but not the possible-worlds semantics, has the resources enough for accounting for both forward-tracking and backtracking counterfactual conditionals.



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Kok Yong Lee
National Chung Cheng University

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