David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Synthese 179 (3):351 - 360 (2011)
If one flips an unbiased coin a million times, there are 2 1,000,000 series of possible heads/tails sequences, any one of which might be the sequence that obtains, and each of which is equally likely to obtain. So it seems (1) 'If I had tossed a fair coin one million times, it might have landed heads every time' is true. But as several authors have pointed out, (2) 'If I had tossed a fair coin a million times, it wouldn't have come up heads every time' will be counted as true in everyday contexts. And according to David Lewis' influential semantics for counterfactuals, (1) and (2) are contradictories. We have a puzzle. We must either (A) deny that (2) is true, (B) deny that (1) is true, or (C) deny that (1) and (2) are contradictories, thus rejecting Lewis' semantics. In this paper I discuss and criticize the proposals of David Lewis and more recently J. Robert G. Williams which solve the puzzle by taking option (B). I argue that we should opt for either (A) or (C)
|Keywords||Counterfactuals Counterfactual scepticism Quasi-miracles Atypical events David Lewis|
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References found in this work BETA
Keith DeRose (1999). Can It Be That It Would Have Been Even Though It Might Not Have Been? Philosophical Perspectives 13 (s13):385-413.
Adam Elga (2004). Infinitesimal Chances and the Laws of Nature. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 82 (1):67 – 76.
Haim Gaifman & Marc Snir (1982). Probabilities Over Rich Languages, Testing and Randomness. Journal of Symbolic Logic 47 (3):495-548.
John Hawthorne (2005). Chance and Counterfactuals. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):396–405.
Citations of this work BETA
Dylan Dodd (2012). Safety, Skepticism, and Lotteries. Erkenntnis 77 (1):95-120.
Dylan Dodd (2012). Counterfactuals and Chance: Reply to Williams. Analytic Philosophy 53 (4):362-365.
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