Strict conditional accounts of counterfactuals

Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (6):621-645 (2017)
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von Fintel and Gillies : 329–360, 2007) have proposed a dynamic strict conditional account of counterfactuals as an alternative to the standard variably strict account due to Stalnaker and Lewis. Von Fintel’s view is motivated largely by so-called reverse Sobel sequences, about which the standard view seems to make the wrong predictions. More recently Moss :561–586, 2012) has offered a pragmatic/epistemic explanation that purports to explain the data without requiring abandonment of the standard view. So far the small amount of subsequent literature has focused primarily on the original class of cases motivating the strict conditional view. What is needed in the debate is an examination of the predictions of the dynamic strict conditional account for a broader range of data. I undertake this task here, presenting a slew of cases that are problematic for the strict conditional view but not for Moss’s view, and considering some possible responses. Ultimately I take my contribution to constitute a significant blow to the dynamic strict conditional view, though not a decisive verdict against it.

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Cory Nichols
Princeton University


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