Open Access
Article

Synthese

, Volume 190, Issue 4, pp 619-637

How to evaluate counterfactuals in the quantum world

Authors

  • Tomasz Bigaj
    • Institute of PhilosophyUniversity of Warsaw

DOI: 10.1007/s11229-012-0195-7

Abstract

In the article I discuss possible amendments and corrections to Lewis’s semantics for counterfactuals that are necessary in order to account for the indeterministic and non-local character of the quantum world. I argue that Lewis’s criteria of similarity between possible worlds produce incorrect valuations for alternate-outcome counterfactuals in the EPR case. Later I discuss an alternative semantics which rejects the notion of miraculous events and relies entirely on the comparison of the agreement with respect to individual facts. However, a controversy exists whether to include future indeterministic events in the criteria of similarity. J. Bennett has suggested that an indeterministic event count toward similarity only if it is a result of the same causal chain as in the actual world. I claim that a much better agreement with the demands of the quantum-mechanical indeterminism can be achieved when we stipulate that possible worlds which differ only with respect to indeterministic facts that take place after the antecedent-event should always be treated as equally similar to the actual world. In the article I analyze and dismiss some common-sense counterexamples to this claim. Finally, I critically evaluate Bennett’s proposal regarding the truth-conditions for true-antecedent counterfactuals.

Keywords

Counterfactuals Indeterminism Quantum mechanics True-antecedent counterfactuals

Open Access

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and the source are credited.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2012