Metaphysica 17 (1):109-129 (2016)

Marcus Arvan
University of Tampa
The standard philosophical analysis of counterfactual conditionals—the Lewis-Stalnaker analysis—analyzes the truth-conditions of counterfactuals in terms of nearby possible worlds. This paper demonstrates that this analysis is false. §1 shows that it is a serious epistemic and metaphysical possibility that our “world” is a massive computer simulation, and that if the Lewis-Stalnaker analysis of counterfactuals is correct, then it should extend seamlessly to the case that our world is a computer simulation, in the form of a possible-simulation semantics. §2 then shows, however, that a Lewis-Stalnaker-style possible-simulation semantics clearly fails as an analysis of the truth-conditions of counterfactuals in two types of simulated worlds: Humean Simulations and Necessitarian simulations. §3 then considers and answers several objections to the argument. Finally, §4 draws several skeptical, but compelling lessons about counterfactuals from the argument.
Keywords counterfactuals  modality  possible worlds  causation  simulation
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DOI 10.1515/mp-2016-0008
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