LEM Forum: Counterfactuals and Contradiction, Paolo Santorio, 28 Oct

Thursday 23 October 2014

INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY

Tuesday 28 October 2014, 17:00-19:00
LEM - Logic, Epistemology & Metaphysics Forum
Room 243, Senate House, WC1
Counterfactuals and Contradiction, Paolo Santorio (University of Leeds)

In two recent papers, Kit Fine shows that classical Lewis/Stalnaker semantics for counterfactuals gives rise to a paradox. Starting from plausible premises and applying very basic logical rules validated by the semantics, one can derive a contradiction. Fine's puzzle, I argue, shows that our semantics for counterfactuals needs to be redesigned, but not in the way Fine suggests. Fine proposes to jettison possible worlds altogether. I argue, rather, that our semantics for counterfactuals should incorporate some of the conceptual tools developed by causal models theorists in computer science and philosophy of science. This move, together with some plausible assumptions, gives us a new breed of possible worlds semantics that (I claim) is independently motivated and can block Fine's paradox. Interestingly, the semantics is hyperintensional (necessary equivalents cannot be freely substituted), though in a tame way---no appeal is made to Fregean senses or similar entities.

Autumn 2014 Series: http://philosophy.sas.ac.uk/LEMSeries

Ends.