Philosophical Studies

, Volume 175, Issue 1, pp 45–69 | Cite as

Counterfactual antecedent falsity and the epistemic sensitivity of counterfactuals

  • Brian LeahyEmail author


Why do utterances of counterfactual conditionals typically, but not universally, convey the message that their antecedents are false? I demonstrate that two common theoretical commitments–commitment to the existence of scalar implicature and of informative presupposition—can be supplemented with an independently motivated theory of the presuppositions of competing conditional alternatives to jointly predict this information when and only when it appears. The view works best if indicative and counterfactual conditionals have a closely related semantics, so I conclude by undermining two familiar arguments for a nonunified semantics of indicative and counterfactual conditionals.


Conditionals Counterfactual antecedent falsity Presuppositional implicature Adams Oswald–Kennedy example Gibbard Riverboat example 



More friends and colleagues helped this paper along than can reasonably be listed here. I sincerely thank everyone who has discussed these issues with me over the course of the paper’s development.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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