Killing baby suzy

Philosophical Studies 139 (3):343 - 352 (2008)
In her (1996) Kadri Vihvelin argues that autoinfanticide is nomologically impossible and so that there is no sense in which time travelers are able to commit it. In response, Theodore Sider (2002) defends the original Lewisian verdict (Lewis 1976) whereby, on a common understanding of ability, time travelers are able to kill their earlier selves and their failure to do so is merely coincidental. This paper constitutes a critical note on arguments put forward by both Sider and Vihvelin. I argue that although Sider’s criticism starts out promisingly he doesn’t succeed in establishing that Vihvelin’s analysis fails, because (a) he neglects to rule out a class of counterfactuals to which Vihvelin’s sample-case may belong; and (b) (together with Lewis) he is wrong to suggest that future facts are irrelevant in the evaluation of time travelers’ abilities. I show instead that Vihvelin’s argument is viciously circular, indicating that even if there are nomological constraints on autoinfanticide these cannot be established a priori.
Keywords Discussion piece  Time traveler’s abilities  Autoinfanticide  Counterfactuals  Nomological constraints  Kadri Vihvelin  Theodore Sider  David Lewis
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References found in this work BETA
David Lewis (1976). The Paradoxes of Time Travel. American Philosophical Quarterly 13 (2):145-152.
Kadri Vihvelin (1996). What Time Travelers Cannot Do. Philosophical Studies 81 (2-3):315 - 330.

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