Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 783–794

A Peculiarity in Pearl’s Logic of Interventionist Counterfactuals


    • Department of PhilosophyLingnan University
  • Wai-Yin Lam
    • Department of PhilosophyLingnan University
  • Rafael De Clercq
    • Department of PhilosophyLingnan University

DOI: 10.1007/s10992-012-9249-z

Cite this article as:
Zhang, J., Lam, W. & De Clercq, R. J Philos Logic (2013) 42: 783. doi:10.1007/s10992-012-9249-z


We examine a formal semantics for counterfactual conditionals due to Judea Pearl, which formalizes the interventionist interpretation of counterfactuals central to the interventionist accounts of causation and explanation. We show that a characteristic principle validated by Pearl’s semantics, known as the principle of reversibility, states a kind of irreversibility: counterfactual dependence (in David Lewis’s sense) between two distinct events is irreversible. Moreover, we show that Pearl’s semantics rules out only mutual counterfactual dependence, not cyclic dependence in general. This, we argue, suggests that Pearl’s logic is either too weak or too strong.


Causal model Counterfactual logic Counterfactual dependence Interventionism

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012