Counterfactuals vs. conditional probabilities: A critical analysis of the counterfactual theory of information

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):45 – 60 (2008)
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Abstract

Cohen and Meskin 2006 recently offered a counterfactual theory of information to replace the standard probabilistic theory of information. They claim that the counterfactual theory fares better than the standard account on three grounds: first, it provides a better framework for explaining information flow properties; second, it requires a less expensive ontology; and third, because it does not refer to doxastic states of the information-receiving organism, it provides an objective basis. In this paper, I show that none of these is really an advantage. Moreover, the counterfactual theory fails to satisfy one of the basic properties of information flow, namely the Conjunction principle. Thus, I conclude, there is no reason to give up the standard probabilistic theory for the counterfactual theory of information.

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