Synthese 191 (6):1327-1348 (2014)

Linton Wang
National Chung Cheng University
Comparative syllogism is a type of scientific reasoning widely used, explicitly or implicitly, for inferences from observations to conclusions about effectiveness, but its philosophical significance has not been fully elaborated or appreciated. In its simplest form, the comparative syllogism derives a conclusion about the effectiveness of a factor (e.g. a treatment or an exposure) on a certain property via an experiment design using a test (experimental) group and a comparison (control) group. Our objective is to show that the comparative syllogism can be understood as encoding a simulation view of counterfactuals, in that counterfactual situations are conceptual constructs that can be correctly simulated by homogeneous comparison groups. In this simulation view, the empirical data from the comparison groups play an evidential role in the evaluation of counterfactuals and in obtaining counterfactual knowledge. We further indicate how successful experimental designs can help us to obtain correct simulations, and thus to bring us to scientifically-empirically based counterfactual knowledge
Keywords Scientific reasoning  Comparative syllogism  Simulation   Confounding  Randomization  Counterfactual knowledge
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-013-0330-0
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David Kellogg Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Harvard University Press.
Philosophical Explanations.Robert Nozick - 1981 - Harvard University Press.

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