Noûs 52 (3):481-507 (2018)

Karen S. Lewis
Barnard College
The classic Lewis-Stalnaker semantics for counterfactuals captures that Sobel sequences are consistent sequences, for example: a.If Sophie had gone to the parade, she would have seen Pedro dance. b.But if Sophie had gone to the parade and been stuck behind someone tall, she would not have seen Pedro dance. But reverse a sequence like this one and it no longer sounds so good, which is surprising on the classic semantics. This observation motivated Kai von Fintel and Thony Gillies to propose dynamic semantic accounts of counterfactual conditionals. Subsequently, Sarah Moss defended the classic semantics against the charge that it need be abandoned in the face of these order effects, arguing that the infelicity of the reverse sequences is pragmatic. I argue that both accounts are ultimately untenable, but each account has strengths. Seeing what works and what doesn't in each account points the way to the right positive view. With this in mind, I defend a contextualist account of counterfactuals that takes conversational relevance to play a central role.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2018
DOI 10.1111/nous.12194
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 57,109
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

A Uniform Theory of Conditionals.William B. Starr - 2014 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 43 (6):1019-1064.
Counterfactual Scorekeeping.Anthony S. Gillies - 2007 - Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (3):329 - 360.
Elusive Counterfactuals.Karen S. Lewis - 2016 - Noûs 50 (2):286-313.
Ordering Semantics and Premise Semantics for Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1981 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 10 (2):217-234.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Contra counterfactism.Alan Hájek - forthcoming - Synthese:1-30.
Strict Conditional Accounts of Counterfactuals.Cory Nichols - 2017 - Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (6):621-645.
Counterfactuals and Modality.Gabriel Greenberg - 2021 - Linguistics and Philosophy 1:1-26.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Counterfactual Scorekeeping.Anthony S. Gillies - 2007 - Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (3):329 - 360.
Embedded Counterfactuals and Possible Worlds Semantics.Charles Cross - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (3):665-673.
New Foundations for Counterfactuals.Franz Huber - 2014 - Synthese 191 (10):2167-2193.
Free Choice Counterfactual Donkeys.R. van Rooij - 2006 - Journal of Semantics 23 (4):383-402.
Elusive Counterfactuals.Karen S. Lewis - 2016 - Noûs 50 (2):286-313.
Counterfactual Semantics with an Ontology of Powers and Actual Objects.Robert Edward Reilly - 1998 - Dissertation, University of California, Los Angeles


Added to PP index

Total views
91 ( #109,629 of 2,411,479 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #188,489 of 2,411,479 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes