David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Noûs 47 (3):453-466 (2013)
We argue that a semantics for counterfactual conditionals in terms of comparative overall similarity faces a formal limitation due to Arrow’s impossibility theorem from social choice theory. According to Lewis’s account, the truth-conditions for counterfactual conditionals are given in terms of the comparative overall similarity between possible worlds, which is in turn determined by various aspects of similarity between possible worlds. We argue that a function from aspects of similarity to overall similarity should satisfy certain plausible constraints while Arrow’s impossibility theorem rules out that such a function satisfies all the constraints simultaneously. We argue that a way out of this impasse is to represent aspectual similarity in terms of ranking functions instead of representing it in a purely ordinal fashion. Further, we argue against the claim that the determination of overall similarity by aspects of similarity faces a difficulty in addition to the Arrovian limitation, namely the incommensurability of different aspects of similarity. The phenomena that have been cited as evidence for such incommensurability are best explained by ordinary vagueness.
|Keywords||counterfactual conditionals comparative overall similarity Arrow's impossibility theorem ranking functions incommensurability|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Timothy Williamson (1994). Vagueness. Routledge.
James Woodward (2003). Making Things Happen: A Theory of Causal Explanation. Oxford University Press.
David K. Lewis (1973). Counterfactuals. Blackwell.
Jonathan Bennett (2003). A Philosophical Guide to Conditionals. Oxford University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Wolfgang Spohn (2013). A Ranking‐Theoretic Approach to Conditionals. Cognitive Science 37 (6):1074-1106.
Franz Huber (2014). New Foundations for Counterfactuals. Synthese 191 (10):2167-2193.
Similar books and articles
Michael Morreau (2010). It Simply Does Not Add Up: Trouble with Overall Similarity. Journal of Philosophy 107 (9):469-490.
Eduardo García-Ramírez (2012). Trans-World Causation? Philosophical Quarterly 62 (246):71-83.
Kotaro Suzumura, Welfarist-Consequentialism, Similarity of Attitudes, and Arrow's General Impossibility Theorem.
Eric Hiddleston (2005). A Causal Theory of Counterfactuals. Noûs 39 (4):632–657.
Daniele Porello (2010). Ranking Judgments in Arrow's Setting. Synthese 173 (2):199 - 210.
Boris Kment (2006). Counterfactuals and Explanation. Mind 115 (458):261-310.
Jacob Stegenga (2013). An Impossibility Theorem for Amalgamating Evidence. Synthese 190 (12):2391-2411.
Gary Marcus (2005). Opposites Detract: Why Rules and Similarity Should Not Be Viewed as Opposite Ends of a Continuum. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (1):28-29.
Ana Arregui (2009). On Similarity in Counterfactuals. Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (3):245-278.
Christian List (2001). A Note on Introducing a 'Zero-Line' of Welfare as an Escape-Route From Arrow's Theorem. Pacific Economic Review (Special Section in Honour of Amartya Sen) 6 (2):223-238.
Franz Dietrich & Christian List (2007). Arrow's Theorem in Judgment Aggregation. Social Choice and Welfare 29 (1):19-33.
Oscar Vilarroya (2005). In Search of Radical Similarity. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (1):35-35.
Added to index2012-03-21
Total downloads197 ( #19,329 of 1,924,984 )
Recent downloads (6 months)15 ( #52,255 of 1,924,984 )
How can I increase my downloads?