When the unreal is more likely than the real: Post hoc probability judgements and counterfactual closeness
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Thinking and Reasoning 4 (2):147 – 177 (1998)
Occasionally, people are called upon to estimate probabilities after an event has occurred. In hindsight, was this an outcome we could have expected? Could things easily have turned out differently? One strategy for performing post hoc probability judgements would be to mentally turn the clock back and reconstruct one's expectations before the event. But if asked about the probability of an alternative, counterfactual outcome, a simpler strategy is available, based on this outcome's perceived closeness to what actually happened. The article presents five studies exploring the relationship between counterfactual closeness and counterfactual probability. The first study indicates that post hoc probabilities typically refer to the counterfactual rather than the factual outcome. Studies 2-5 show that physical, temporal, or conceptual proximity play a decisive role for post hoc probability assessments of counterfactual events. When margins are narrow, the probabilities of, for instance, winning a match (when losing), and of losing (when actually winning) may even be rated higher than the corresponding probabilities of what really happened. Closeness is also more often referred to, and rated to be a better reason for believing there is a ''good chance" of the counterfactual rather than of the factual result occurring. Finally, the closeness of the alternative outcome in success and failure stories is shown to be significantly correlated to its rated probability.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Michael Strevens (2011). Probability Out Of Determinism. In Claus Beisbart & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), Probabilities in Physics. Oxford University Press. 339--364.
Boris Kment (2006). Counterfactuals and Explanation. Mind 115 (458):261-310.
K. Hutchison (1999). What Are Conditional Probabilities Conditional Upon? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 50 (4):665-695.
Alice McEleney & Ruth M. J. Byrne (2006). Spontaneous Counterfactual Thoughts and Causal Explanations. Thinking and Reasoning 12 (2):235 – 255.
Robert C. Stalnaker (1970). Probability and Conditionals. Philosophy of Science 37 (1):64-80.
David R. Mandel (2003). Effect of Counterfactual and Factual Thinking on Causal Judgements. Thinking and Reasoning 9 (3):245 – 265.
Richard Otte (2006). Counterfactuals and Epistemic Probability. Synthese 152 (1):81 - 93.
Aidan Lyon (2010). Deterministic Probability: Neither Chance nor Credence. Synthese 182 (3):413-432.
Anton Kühberger, Christa Großbichler & Angelika Wimmer (2011). Counterfactual Closeness and Predicted Affect. Thinking and Reasoning 17 (2):137 - 155.
Added to index2009-02-11
Total downloads7 ( #188,281 of 1,102,926 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #297,281 of 1,102,926 )
How can I increase my downloads?