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Semiotica

Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel


IMPACT FACTOR 2017: 0.183
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Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2017: 0.634

Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca: Classe A

Online
ISSN
1613-3692
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Volume 2012, Issue 188

Issues

Counterfactual semantics and quantum physics

Tomasz Bigaj,
Published Online: 2012-02-18 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2012-0013

Abstract

This paper addresses the issue of the applicability of David Lewis's possible world semantics of counterfactual conditionals to the explication of some quantum-mechanical phenomena. Three main reasons why counterfactual semantics may be useful for this task are given. It is further argued that two possible semantic approaches to counterfactuals should be taken into account involving spatiotemporal events that satisfy requirements of special relativity. The main problem considered in the article is how to expand both approaches into full semantic systems. The first of the approaches is known to be amenable to a generalization within the Lewis-style semantics. The second one, however, poses a greater challenge, as it has been proven (Bigaj 2004) that it cannot be incorporated into a similarity-based counterfactual semantics. In this article, an alternative method of generalization for the second counterfactual semantics is developed, which goes beyond Lewis's framework based on the rigid similarity relation between possible worlds. The proposed method of evaluating counterfactuals is then put to the test using an example from the quantum theory. As a result of this test, a small correction of the method turns out to be necessary.

Keywords:: counterfactual conditionals; possible worlds; quantum mechanics; similarity relation

About the article

Published Online: 2012-02-18

Published in Print: 2012-02-01


Citation Information: , Volume 2012, Issue 188, Pages 181–202, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2012-0013.

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