Counterfactuals and the fixity of the past

Philosophical Studies 168 (2):1-19 (2014)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

I argue that David Lewis’s attempt, in his ‘Counterfactual Dependence and Time’s Arrow’, to explain the fixity of the past in terms of counterfactual independence is unsuccessful. I point out that there is an ambiguity in the claim that the past is counterfactually independent of the present (or, more generally, that the earlier is counterfactually independent of the later), corresponding to two distinct theses about the relation between time and counterfactuals, both officially endorsed by Lewis. I argue that Lewis’s attempt is flawed for a variety of reasons, including the fact that his own theory about the evaluation of counterfactuals requires too many exceptions to the general rule that the past is counterfactually independent of the present. At the end of the paper, I consider a variant of Lewis’s strategy that attempts to explain the fixity of the past in terms of causal, rather than counterfactual, independence. I conclude that, although this variant avoids some of the objections that afflict Lewis’s account, it nevertheless seems to be incapable of giving a satisfactory explanation of the notion of the fixity of the past

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,252

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

The fixity of reasons.Andre Norman Gallois - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 146 (2):233 - 248.
Freedom and the Fixity of the Past.Wesley H. Holliday - 2012 - Philosophical Review 121 (2):179-207.
Presentism and ontological symmetry.Joseph Diekemper - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (2):223 – 240.
Why God's beliefs are not hard-type soft facts.David Widerker - 2002 - Religious Studies 38 (1):77-88.
Do the Closest Counterfactual Worlds Contain Miracles?Phillip Goggans - 1992 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 73 (2):137 - 149.
The entropy theory of counterfactuals.Douglas N. Kutach - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (1):82-104.
Counterfactuals and explanation.Boris Kment - 2006 - Mind 115 (458):261-310.

Analytics

Added to PP
2013-04-24

Downloads
148 (#122,679)

6 months
15 (#148,654)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Penelope Mackie
Nottingham University

References found in this work

Philosophical papers.David Kellogg Lewis - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Causation.David Lewis - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (17):556-567.
A philosophical guide to conditionals.Jonathan Bennett - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Causation.D. Lewis - 1973 - In Philosophical Papers Ii. Oxford University Press. pp. 159-213.

View all 16 references / Add more references