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Metaphysica

International Journal for Ontology and Metaphysics

Ed. by Hüntelmann, Rafael / Meixner, Uwe / Tegtmeier, Erwin

Together with Cumpa, Javier

Editorial Board Member: Addis, Laird / Davies, Brian / Hochberg, Herbert / Johansson, Ingvar / Kanzian, Christian / Klima, Gyula / Koons, Robert C / Künne, Wolfgang / Löffler, Winfried / Mulligan, Kevin / Nef, Frederic / Oaklander, Nathan / Oderberg, David / Orilia, Francesco / Plantinga, Alvin / Potrc, Matjaz / Rapp, Christof / Reicher-Marek, Maria Elisabeth / Schantz, Richard / Scholz, Oliver / Seibt, Johanna / Simons, Peter / Smith, Barry / Stoecker, Ralf / Strobach, Niko / Trettin, Käthe / Wachter, Daniel

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1874-6373
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A Refutation of the Lewis-Stalnaker Analysis of Counterfactuals

1Deptartment of Philosophy & Religion, University of Tampa, Tampa, FL 33606, USA

Citation Information: Metaphysica. Volume 17, Issue 1, Pages 109–129, ISSN (Online) 1874-6373, ISSN (Print) 1437-2053, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2016-0008, March 2016

Publication History

Published Online:
2016-03-24

Abstract

The standard philosophical analysis of counterfactual conditionals – the Lewis-Stalnaker analysis – analyzes the truth-conditions of counterfactuals in terms of nearby possible worlds. This paper demonstrates that this analysis is false. Section 1 shows that it is a serious epistemic and metaphysical possibility that our “world” is a massive computer simulation, and that if the Lewis-Stalnaker analysis of counterfactuals is correct, then it should extend seamlessly to the case that our world is a computer simulation, in the form of a possible-simulation semantics. Section 2 then shows that a Lewis-Stalnaker-style possible-simulation semantics clearly fails as an analysis of the truth-conditions of counterfactuals in two types of simulated worlds: Humean Simulations and Necessitarian simulations. Section 3 then considers and answers several objections. Finally, Section 4 draws several skeptical lessons about counterfactuals.

Key words: counterfactuals; conditionals; semantics; simulations; meaning.

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