Noûs:1-32 (forthcoming)

Authors
Alexander W. Kocurek
Cornell University
Abstract
It is widely held that counterfactuals, unlike attitude ascriptions, preserve the referential transparency of their constituents, i.e., that counterfactuals validate the substitution of identicals when their constituents do. The only putative counterexamples in the literature come from counterpossibles, i.e., counterfactuals with impossible antecedents. Advocates of counterpossibilism, i.e., the view that counterpossibles are not all vacuous, argue that counterpossibles can generate referential opacity. But in order to explain why most substitution inferences into counterfactuals seem valid, counterpossibilists also often maintain that counterfactuals with possible antecedents are transparency‐preserving. I argue that if counterpossibles can generate opacity, then so can ordinary counterfactuals with possible antecedents. Utilizing an analogy between counterfactuals and attitude ascriptions, I provide a counterpossibilist‐friendly explanation for the apparent validity of substitution inferences into counterfactuals. I conclude by suggesting that the debate over counterpossibles is closely tied to questions concerning the extent to which counterfactuals are more like attitude ascriptions and epistemic operators than previously recognized.
Keywords counterfactuals  substitution of identicals  counterpossibles  identity  propositional attitudes  a priori  simplification of disjunctive antecedents  Williamson  transparency
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DOI 10.1111/nous.12273
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Blackwell.
Ifs and Oughts.Niko Kolodny & John MacFarlane - 2010 - Journal of Philosophy 107 (3):115-143.
Modality and Explanatory Reasoning.Boris Kment - 2014 - Oxford University Press.

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Classical Opacity.Michael Caie, Jeremy Goodman & Harvey Lederman - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

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