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New Foundations for Counterfactuals

Huber, Franz (2014) New Foundations for Counterfactuals. Synthese, 191 (10). pp. 2167-2193.

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Abstract

Philosophers typically rely on intuitions when providing a semantics for counterfactual conditionals. However, intuitions regarding counterfactual conditionals are notoriously shaky. The aim of this paper is to provide a principled account of the semantics of counterfactual conditionals. This principled account is provided by what I dub the Royal Rule, a deterministic analogue of the Principal Principle relating chance and credence.

The Royal Rule says that an ideal doxastic agent's initial grade of disbelief in a proposition A, given that the counterfactual distance in a given context to the closest A-worlds equals n, and no further information that is not admissible in this context, should equal n. Under the two assumptions that the presuppositions of a given context are admissible in this context, and that the theory of deterministic alethic or metaphysical modality is admissible in any context, it follows that the counterfactual distance distribution in a given context has the structure of a ranking function. The basic conditional logic V is shown to be sound and complete with respect to the resulting rank-theoretic semantics of counterfactuals.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Huber, Franzfranz.huber@utoronto.ca
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email franz.huber@utoronto.ca
Date Deposited: 09 Jul 2014 14:11
Last Modified: 09 Jul 2014 14:11
Item ID: 10832
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11229-01...
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
General Issues > Decision Theory
Specific Sciences > Probability/Statistics
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 2014
Page Range: pp. 2167-2193
Volume: 191
Number: 10
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10832

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