Killing Baby Suzy

Philosophical Studies 139 (3):343-352 (2008)
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Abstract

In her (1996) Kadri Vihvelin argues that autoinfanticide is nomologically impossible and so that there is no sense in which time travelers are able to commit it. In response, Theodore Sider (2002) defends the original Lewisian verdict (Lewis 1976) whereby, on a common understanding of ability, time travelers are able to kill their earlier selves and their failure to do so is merely coincidental. This paper constitutes a critical note on arguments put forward by both Sider and Vihvelin. I argue that although Sider’s criticism starts out promisingly he doesn’t succeed in establishing that Vihvelin’s analysis fails, because (a) he neglects to rule out a class of counterfactuals to which Vihvelin’s sample-case may belong; and (b) (together with Lewis) he is wrong to suggest that future facts are irrelevant in the evaluation of time travelers’ abilities. I show instead that Vihvelin’s argument is viciously circular, indicating that even if there are nomological constraints on autoinfanticide these cannot be established a priori.

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Ira Kiourti
University of London

Citations of this work

Lessons from Grandfather.Andrew Law & Ryan Wasserman - 2022 - Philosophies 7 (1):11.
Real impossible worlds : the bounds of possibility.Ira Georgia Kiourti - 2010 - Dissertation, University of St Andrews
What time travelers may be able to do.Peter B. M. Vranas - 2010 - Philosophical Studies 150 (1):115 - 121.

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References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Malden, Mass.: Blackwell.
The Paradoxes of Time Travel.David K. Lewis - 1976 - American Philosophical Quarterly 13 (2):145-152.
Time travel, coincidences, and counterfactuals.Theodore Sider - 2002 - Philosophical Studies 110 (2):115 - 138.
What time travelers cannot do.Kadri Vihvelin - 1996 - Philosophical Studies 81 (2-3):315 - 330.

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