Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 42, Issue 5, pp 783–794 | Cite as

A Peculiarity in Pearl’s Logic of Interventionist Counterfactuals

  • Jiji Zhang
  • Wai-Yin Lam
  • Rafael De Clercq


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 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyLingnan UniversityTuen MunHong Kong

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