On Lewis, Schaffer and the non-reductive evaluation of counterfactuals

Theoria 75 (4):336-343 (2009)
Abstract
Jonathan Schaffer (2004 ) proposes an ingenious amendment to David Lewis's semantics for counterfactuals. This amendment explicitly invokes the notion of causal independence, thus giving up Lewis's ambitions for a reductive counterfactual account of causation. But in return, it rescues Lewis's semantics from extant counterexamples. I present a new counterexample that defeats even Schaffer's amendment. Further, I argue that a better approach would be to follow the causal modelling literature and evaluate counterfactuals via an explicit postulated causal structure. This alternative approach easily resolves the new counterexample, as well as all the previous ones. Up to now, its perceived drawback relative to Lewis's scheme has been its non-reductiveness. But since the same drawback applies equally to Schaffer's amended scheme, this becomes no longer a point of comparative disadvantage.
Keywords counterfactuals  causation  reduction
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References found in this work BETA
David Lewis (2004). Void and Object. In John Collins, Ned Hall & L. A. Paul (eds.), Causation and Counterfactuals. Mit Press. 277-290.

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