A Refutation of the Lewis-Stalnaker Analysis of Counterfactuals

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

Abstract

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.

Similar books and articles

Antecedent-Relative Comparative World Similarity.Charles B. Cross - 2008 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 37 (2):101-120.
Embedded counterfactuals and possible worlds semantics.Charles B. Cross - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (3):665-673.
Counterfactuals of Ontological Dependence.Sam Baron - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (2):278-299.
Counterfactuals and Accessibility.Daniel Kodaj - 2016 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 5 (2):147-156.
Wierenga on theism and counterpossibles.Fabio Lampert - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (3):693-707.
Counterfactuals Revisited.Joseph Fulda - 1996 - Sorites 5:35-38.

Analytics

Added to PP
2016-06-30

Downloads
285 (#76,070)

6 months
96 (#60,503)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Marcus Arvan
University of Tampa

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Critica 17 (49):69-71.
On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 178 (3):388-390.
A Theory of Conditionals.Robert Stalnaker - 1968 - In Nicholas Rescher (ed.), Studies in Logical Theory. Oxford,: Blackwell. pp. 98-112.

View all 12 references / Add more references