Against Counterfactual Miracles

Philosophical Review 125 (2):241-286 (2016)
Abstract
This paper considers how counterfactuals should be evaluated on the assumption that determinism is true. I argue against Lewis's influential view that then the actual laws of nature would have been false if something had happened that never actually happened, and in favour of the competing view that history would have been different all the way back. I argue that we can do adequate justice to our ordinary practice of relying on a wide range of historical truths in evaluating counterfactuals by saying that, in typical cases, history would have been only very slightly different until shortly before the relevant time. The paper also draws some connections between the puzzle about counterfactuals under determinism and the debate about whether determinism is consistent with people having unexercised abilities.
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DOI 10.1215/00318108-3453187
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Marc Lange (1999). Why Are the Laws of Nature so Important to Science? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (3):625-652.
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