The Counterfactual Direct Argument

Simon GOLDSTEIN

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)

Abstract

Many have accepted that ordinary counterfactuals and might counterfactuals are duals. In this paper, I show that this thesis leads to paradoxical results when combined with a few different unorthodox yet increasingly popular theses, including the thesis that counterfactuals are strict conditionals. Given Duality and several other theses, we can quickly infer the validity of another paradoxical principle, ‘The Counterfactual Direct Argument’, which says that ‘A> (B or C)’ entails ‘A> (not B> C)’. First, I provide a collapse theorem for the ‘counterfactual direct argument’ (CDA). The counterfactual direct argument entails the logical equivalence of the subjunctive and material conditional, given a variety of assumptions. Second, I provide a semantics that validates the counterfactual direct argument without collapse. This theory further develops extant dynamic accounts of conditionals. I give a new semantics for disjunction, on which A or B is only true in a context when A and B are both unsettled. The resulting framework validates CDA while invalidating other commonly accepted principles concerning the conditional and disjunction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-232
Number of pages40
JournalLinguistics and Philosophy
Volume43
Issue number2
Early online date29 Jul 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

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Bibliographical note

This research was supported by Research Grants Council Grant #23602118.

Keywords

  • Counterfactuals
  • Disjunction
  • Semantics

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