Counterfactuals and Context: A Response to Brogaard and Salerno

TitleCounterfactuals and Context: A Response to Brogaard and Salerno
Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsDemir, Mehmet Hilmi
JournalKilikya Felsefe Dergisi
Issue1
Pagination1-10
Date Published2018
E-ISSN2148-9327
KeywordsLewis, contraposition, counterfactuals, hypothetical syllogism, strengthening the antecedent
Abstract

According to the standard interpretation, counterfactuals fail to satisfy the following inference rules: contraposition, strengthening the antecedent and hypothetical syllogism. Contrary to the standard interpretation, Brogaard and Salerno (2008) argue that counterfactuals do satisfy these inference rules when context features are kept fixed in evaluating arguments with counterfactuals. For them, the main reason behind claiming that counterfactuals fail to satisfy these inference rules is the illicit shift in context when evaluating the arguments in question. If true, Brogaard and Salerno’s claim would have a devastating effect on the counterfactuals literature because almost the entire literature is based on the assumption that counterfactuals do not satisfy those inference rules. Given its importance, Brogaard and Salerno’s claim is examined in this paper. They are right in claiming that contextual features must be kept fixed throughout the evaluation of an argument, but the rest of their claim rests on a faulty reasoning. In the paper, I show that counterfactuals do fail to satisfy contraposition, strengthening the antecedent and hypothetical syllogism even when contextual features are kept fixed throughout the evaluation of an argument in the way Brogaard and Salerno require.

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