, Volume 190, Issue 4, pp 619-637,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 05 Oct 2012

How to evaluate counterfactuals in the quantum world

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.