Omission impossible

Philosophical Studies 173 (10):2575-2589 (2016)

Authors
Sara Bernstein
University of Notre Dame
Abstract
This paper gives a framework for understanding causal counterpossibles, counterfactuals imbued with causal content whose antecedents appeal to metaphysically impossible worlds. Such statements are generated by omissive causal claims that appeal to metaphysically impossible events, such as “If the mathematician had not failed to prove that 2+2=5, the math textbooks would not have remained intact.” After providing an account of impossible omissions, the paper argues for three claims: (i) impossible omissions play a causal role in the actual world, (ii) causal counterpossibles have broad applications in philosophy, and (iii) the truth of causal counterpossibles provides evidence for the nonvacuity of counterpossibles more generally.
Keywords Omissions  Causation  Counterpossibles  Impossible worlds  Counterfactuals
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DOI 10.1007/s11098-016-0672-9
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References found in this work BETA

Essence and Modality.Kit Fine - 1994 - Philosophical Perspectives 8:1-16.
Guide to Ground.Kit Fine - 2012 - In Fabrice Correia & Benjamin Schnieder (eds.), Metaphysical Grounding. Cambridge University Press. pp. 37--80.
Causation as Influence.David K. Lewis - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (4):182-197.
Making Things Happen. A Theory of Causal Explanation.James Woodward - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 74 (1):233-249.
Making Things Happen.James Woodward - 2005 - Philosophical Review 114 (4):545-547.

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Citations of this work BETA

Williamson on Counterpossibles.Berto Francesco, David Ripley, Graham Priest & Rohan French - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 47 (4):693-713.
Grounding Is Not Causation.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Philosophical Perspectives 30 (1):21-38.
Overdetermination Underdetermined.Sara Bernstein - 2016 - Erkenntnis 81 (1):17-40.

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

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