Synthese 198 (Suppl 16):3877-3898 (2019)

Authors
Samuel C. Fletcher
University of Minnesota
Abstract
If one is interested in reasoning counterfactually within a physical theory, one cannot adequately use the standard possible world semantics. As developed by Lewis and others, this semantics depends on entertaining possible worlds with miracles, worlds in which laws of nature, as described by physical theory, are violated. Van Fraassen suggested instead to use the models of a theory as worlds, but gave up on determining the needed comparative similarity relation for the semantics objectively. I present a third way, in which this similarity relation is determined from properties of the models contextually relevant to the truth of the counterfactual under evaluation. After illustrating this with a simple example from thermodynamics, I draw some implications for future work, including a renewed possibility for a viable deflationary account of laws of nature.
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02085-0
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David Kellogg Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Harvard University Press.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Aboutness.Stephen Yablo - 2014 - Princeton University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Similarity Structure and Emergent Properties.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2020 - Philosophy of Science 87 (2):281-301.
A plea for distinctions.Mark Wilson - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-28.
Naturalización de la Metafísica Modal.Carlos Romero - 2021 - Dissertation, National Autonomous University of Mexico

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