Counterfactual reasoning and knowledge of possibilities

Philosophical Studies 174 (4):821-835 (2017)
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Williamson has argued against scepticism concerning our metaphysically modal knowledge, by arguing that standard patterns of suppositional reasoning to counterfactual conclusions provide reliable sources of correct ascriptions of possibility and necessity. The paper argues that, while Williamson’s claims relating to necessity may well be right, he has not provided adequate reasons for thinking that the familiar modes of counterfactual reasoning to which he points generalise to provide a decent route to ascriptions of possibility. The paper also explores another path to ascriptions of possibility that may be extracted from Williamson’s ideas, before briefly considering the general status of counterfactual reasoning in relation to our knowledge of possibilities.
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