Does Chance Undermine Would?

Mind (forthcoming)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Counterfactual skepticism holds that most ordinary counterfactuals are false. The main argument for this view appeals to a ‘chance undermines would’ principle: if ψ would have some chance of not obtaining had φ obtained, then φ []–> ψ is false. This principle seems to follow from two fairly weak principles, viz., that ‘chance ensures could’ and that φ []–> ψ and φ <>–> ψ clash. Despite their initial plausibility, I show that these principles are independently problematic: given some modest closure principles, they entail absurdities. Moreover, on the most promising strategy for saving these principles, they do not, in the relevant sense, entail the chance-undermines-would principle. Instead, they entail a principle that only supports counterfactual indeterminism, the view that most ordinary counterfactuals are chancy, i.e., not settled true. I demonstrate this by developing an indeterminist semantics that vindicates the clash and chance-ensures-could principles but not the chance-undermines-would principle. This view, I argue, offers a better account of our credal and linguistic judgments than counterfactual skepticism.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Upload history
First archival date: 2021-09-02
Latest version: 3 (2021-10-15)
View other versions
Added to PP

313 (#25,879)

6 months
74 (#9,923)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?