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Synthese

, Volume 179, Issue 2, pp 239–251 | Cite as

“If you’d wiggled A, then B would’ve changed”

Causality and counterfactual conditionals
  • Katrin SchulzEmail author
Open Access
Article

Abstract

This paper deals with the truth conditions of conditional sentences. It focuses on a particular class of problematic examples for semantic theories for these sentences. I will argue that the examples show the need to refer to dynamic, in particular causal laws in an approach to their truth conditions. More particularly, I will claim that we need a causal notion of consequence. The proposal subsequently made uses a representation of causal dependencies as proposed in Pearl (2000) to formalize a causal notion of consequence. This notion inserted in premise semantics for counterfactuals in the style of Veltman (1976) and Kratzer (1979) will provide a new interpretation rule for conditionals. I will illustrate how this approach overcomes problems of previous proposals and end with some remarks on remaining questions.

Keywords

Counterfactual conditionals Causal dependencies Premise semantics Fixed point semantics 

Notes

Acknowledgment

The author is supported by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).

Open Access

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

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ILLCUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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