Game Counterpossibles

Argumenta 6 (1):117-133 (2020)
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Abstract
Counterpossibles, counterfactuals conditional with impossible antecedents, are notoriously contested; while the standard view makes them trivially true, some authors argue that they can be non-trivially true. In this paper, I examine the use of counterfactuals in the context of games, and argue that there is a case to be made for their non-triviality in a restricted sense. In particular, I examine the case of retro problems in chess, where it can happen that one is tasked with evaluating counterfactuals about illegal positions. If we understand illegality as a type of restricted impossibility, those counterfactuals are non-trivial counterpossibles. I suggest that their non-triviality stems from their role in practices of rule coordination and revision, and suggest that this model could be generalized to counterpossibles in different domains. I then compare the approach to the accounts of Vetter 2016 and Locke 2019.
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Archival date: 2020-11-16
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2020-11-14

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