Review of Symbolic Logic 5 (1):85-121 (2012)

Hannes Leitgeb
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
This is part B of a paper in which we defend a semantics for counterfactuals which is probabilistic in the sense that the truth condition for counterfactuals refers to a probability measure. Because of its probabilistic nature, it allows a counterfactual to be true even in the presence of relevant -worlds, as long such exceptions are not too widely spread. The semantics is made precise and studied in different versions which are related to each other by representation theorems. Despite its probabilistic nature, we show that the semantics and the resulting system of logic may be regarded as a naturalistically vindicated variant of David Lewis work. We argue that counterfactuals have two kinds of pragmatic meanings and come attached with two types of degrees of acceptability or belief, one being suppositional, the other one being truth based as determined by our probabilistic semantics; these degrees could not always coincide due to a new triviality result for counterfactuals, and they should not be identified in the light of their different interpretation and pragmatic purpose. However, for plain assertability the difference between them does not matter. Hence, if the suppositional theory of counterfactuals is formulated with sufficient care, our truth-conditional theory of counterfactuals is consistent with it. The results of our investigation are used to assess a claim considered by Hawthorne and Hájek, that is, the thesis that most ordinary counterfactuals are false
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1017/s1755020311000153
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,172
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David Kellogg Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
The Logic of Scientific Discovery.Karl Raimund Popper - 1934 - London, England: Routledge.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 95 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Infinitesimal Probabilities.Vieri Benci, Leon Horsten & Sylvia Wenmackers - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (2):509-552.
Getting Rid of Interventions.Alexander Reutlinger - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (4):787-795.

View all 35 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Interventionist Counterfactuals.Rachael Briggs - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (1):139-166.
Would‐Cause Semantics.Phil Dowe - 2009 - Philosophy of Science 76 (5):701-711.
Constraining Premise Sets for Counterfactuals.Angelika Kratzer - 2005 - Journal of Semantics 22 (2):153-158.
Of Miracles and Interventions.Luke Glynn - 2013 - Erkenntnis 78 (1):43-64.


Added to PP index

Total views
123 ( #96,112 of 2,517,826 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #272,606 of 2,517,826 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes