Axioms for a Logic of Consequential Counterfactuals

Logic Journal of the IGPL 31 (5):907-925 (2023)
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Abstract

The basis of the paper is a logic of analytical consequential implication, CI.0, which is known to be equivalent to the well-known modal system KT thanks to the definition A → B = df A ⥽ B ∧ Ξ (Α, Β), Ξ (Α, Β) being a symbol for what is called here Equimodality Property: (□A ≡ □B) ∧ (◊A ≡ ◊B). Extending CI.0 (=KT) with axioms and rules for the so-called circumstantial operator symbolized by *, one obtains a system CI.0*Eq in whose language one can define an operator ↠ suitable to formalize context-dependent conditionals (so to counterfactual conditionals) via the definition (Def ↠) A ↠ B = df *A ⥽ B ∧ Ξ (Α, Β).. The central problem of the paper is to identify inside CI.0*Eq + Def ↠ a set of axioms yielding the fragment consisting of all and only theorems in which only truth-functional operators and the two operators → and ↠ occur. This system, here called CI.0, is introduced in §3. In view of the intended purpose, it is introduced a complete and tableau-decidable system KTw, which is an extension of KT with axioms for the so-called quasi-variables w(A), w(B)… Three translation functions among the three languages used in the paper are then introduced. The first, Tr, maps every wff of form *A into wffs of form w(A) ∧ A and translates theorems of CI.0*Eq into theorems of KTw. The second, t°, translates theorems of CI.0 into theorems of CI.0*Eq by applying Def↠. A third one, t, translates theorems of CI.0 into theorems of KTw. As a consequence, it follows that t°A = TrtA. In §4 it is proved that CI.0 is complete w.r.t. the class of CI.0-models of form where f is a selection function and R an access relation. It is then proved (i) that CI.0 models may be converted into KTw-models; (ii) that the truth-value of a proposition in a world of a CI.0-model is preserved in the same world of the derived KTw-model; (iii) that A is a CI.0-thesis iff its translation tA is KTw-thesis. It follows that, if A is not a CI.0-thesis, tA is not a KTw-thesis, so also that TrtA is not a CI.0*Eq-thesis. Since t°A = TrtA and t°A is a function built on Def↠, this proves that every t°-translation of a CI.0-wff that is a CI.0*Eq-theorem is a CI.0-theorem. Since the converse proposition is proved in §2, their conjunction establishes the desired result. In the final section, it is proved that CI.0 is tableau-decidable, that ↠ is not a trivial operator and that ↠ enjoys the positive and negative properties required in §1 for context-dependent conditionals. Some final remarks suggest that studying the relations between CI.0 and systems of classical conditional logic may be a promising line of investigation.

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References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 42 (3):341-344.
The problem of counterfactual conditionals.Nelson Goodman - 1947 - Journal of Philosophy 44 (5):113-128.
Constructible falsity.David Nelson - 1949 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 14 (1):16-26.

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