Are Counterpossibles Epistemic?

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 102 (1):51-72 (2021)
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Abstract

It has been suggested that intuitions supporting the nonvacuity of counterpossibles can be explained by distinguishing an epistemic and a metaphysical reading of counterfactuals. Such an explanation must answer why we tend to neglect the distinction of the two readings. By way of an answer, I offer a generalized pattern for explaining nonvacuity intuitions by a stand-and-fall relationship to certain indicative conditionals. Then, I present reasons for doubting the proposal: nonvacuists can use the epistemic reading to turn the table against vacuists, telling apart significant from spurious intuitions. Moreover, our intuitions tend to survive even if we clear-headedly intend a metaphysical reading.

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Daniel Dohrn
Università degli Studi di Milano

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