Inference in imagination and counterfactual conditionals
|Abstract||I propose an explanation for reasoning about counterfactual conditionals. We reason properly to a counterfactual if A, C, when we imagine A along with cotenable background conditions, then properly infer C. Proper inference in my sense is just the same sort of inference that is proper in cases of theoretical reasoning with beliefs. (Roughly: a proper inference is warrant-transferring from belief in A and the background conditions to C.) Cotenability for counterfactuals is explained by reference to our abilities to attribute beliefs to others, given sincere testimony. (Roughly: p is cotenable with A just in case it would be reasonable to attribute the belief that p to a person who sincerely asserted A, in the conversational context.) I close with a proposal for the semantics of counterfactual conditionals. To assert the counterfactual is merely to claim that (the conditions are such that) there is an available inference from the antecedent, with the cotenable conditions, to the consequent.|
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