The paper addresses a puzzle about the probabilistic evaluation of counterfactuals, raised by Ernest Adams as a problem for his own theory. I discuss Brian Skyrms’s response to the puzzle. I compare this puzzle with other puzzles about counterfactuals that have arisen more recently. And I attempt to solve the puzzle in a way that is consistent with Adams’s proposal about counterfactuals.
We provide an introduction to some of the key issues raised in this volume by considering how individual chapters bear on the prospects of what may be called a ‘counterfactual process view’ of causal reasoning. According to such a view, counterfactual thought is an essential part of the processing involved in making causal judgements, at least in a central range of cases that are critical to a subject’s understanding of what it is for one thing to cause another. We argue (...) that one fruitful way of approaching the different contributions to the volume is to think of them as providing materials, conceptual as well as empirical, for challenging counterfactual process views of causal thinking, or for responding to such challenges. Amongst the challenges we consider are ones that arise out of or parallel objections to counterfactual theories of causation in philosophy, or ones that appeal to apparent developmental dissociations between causal and counterfactual reasoning abilities. Possible responses turn on questions such as the following: What should count as engaging in counterfactual reasoning? How should we think of the cognitive prerequisites of such reasoning? Is it right to ask what the relationship is between causal and counterfactual reasoning, or are there in fact a number of different ways in which the two are connected? (shrink)
Fitch’s argument purports to show that for any unknown truth, p , there is an unknowable truth, namely, that p is true and unknown; for a contradiction follows from the assumption that it is possible to know that p is true and unknown. In earlier work I argued that there is a sense in which it is possible to know that p is true and unknown, from a counterfactual perspective; that is, there can be possible, non-actual knowledge, of the actual (...) situation, that in that situation, p is true and unknown. Here I further elaborate that claim and respond to objections by Williamson, who argued that there cannot be non-trivial knowledge of this kind. I give conditions which suffice for such non-trivial counterfactual knowledge. (shrink)
I defend a version of Kripke's claim that the metaphysically necessary and the knowable a priori are independent. On my version, there are two independent families of modal notions, metaphysical and epistemic, neither stronger than the other. Metaphysical possibility is constrained by the laws of nature. Logical validity, I suggest, is best understood in terms of epistemic necessity.
Section 1 briefly examines three theories of indicative conditionals. The Suppositional Theory is defended, and shown to be incompatible with understanding conditionals in terms of truth conditions. Section 2 discusses the psychological evidence about conditionals reported by Over and Evans (this volume). Section 3 discusses the syntactic grounds offered by Haegeman (this volume) for distinguishing two sorts of conditional.
Mellor's subject is singular causation between facts, expressed ‘E because C’. His central requirement for causation is that the chance that E if C be greater than the chance that E if C: chc(E)>chc(E). The book is as much about chance as it is about causation. I show that his way of distinguishing chc (E) from the traditional notion of conditional chance leaves than him with a problem about the existence of chQ(P) when Q is false (Section 3); and also (...) that any notion of chance which conforms to the standard calculus has wider application than the causal instances to which Mellor's notion is restricted (Section 8). Other topics discussed may be gleaned from the headings below. 1 Review of D.H. Mellor : The Facss of Causation, London, Routledge, International Library of Philosophy. (shrink)