A Refutation of the Lewis-Stalnaker Analysis of Counterfactuals

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


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. 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. 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. then considers and answers several objections. Finally, draws several skeptical lessons about counterfactuals.

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Metaphysica provides an international forum of ontology and metaphysics for readers all over the world. The journal is published biannually.