Counterfactual analysis: Can the metalinguistic theory be revitalized?

Synthese 81 (1):47 - 62 (1989)
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This paper evaluates the recent trend to renounce the similarity approach to counterfactuals in favor of the older metalinguistic theory. I try to show, first, that the metalinguistic theory cannot work in anything like its present form (the form described by many in the last decade who claim to be able to solve Goodman''s old problem of cotenability). This is so, I argue, because the metalinguistic theory requires laws of nature of a sort that we (apparently) do not have: current physical theory cannot underwrite the metalinguistic theory. Second, I draw from the first point a motivation for the similarity approach, a motivation based on theoretical considerations apart from the standard ones of pretheoretical intuition.



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John F. Halpin
Oakland University

Citations of this work

The miraculous conception of counterfactuals.John F. Halpin - 1991 - Philosophical Studies 63 (3):271 - 290.

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References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1973 - Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
The Philosophy of Logical Atomism.Bertrand Russell - 1940 - Open Court. Edited by David Pears.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 36 (3):602-605.

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