, Volume 194, Issue 12, pp 4935–4957 | Cite as

Causal counterfactuals are not interventionist counterfactuals

  • Tyrus FisherEmail author


In this paper I present a limitation to what may be called strictly-interventionistic causal-model semantic theories for subjunctive conditionals. And I offer a line of response to Briggs’ (Philos Stud 160:139–166, 2012) counterexample to Modus Ponens—given within a strictly-interventionistic framework—for the subjunctive conditional. The paper also contains some discussion of backtracking counterfactuals and backtracking interpretations. The limitation inherent to strict interventionism is brought out via a class of counterexamples. A causal-model semantics is strictly interventionistic just in case the procedure it gives for evaluating a subjunctive conditional requires making the values of the variables implicated in the antecedent independent from the values of the parents of these antecedent variables. Most causal-model semantic theories that have gained attention are strictly interventionistic.


Backtrackers Counterfactuals Causal models Modus Ponens 



Thanks to Bas van Fraassen and Ted Shear for their helpful comments on an earlier draft. Thanks also to two helpful anonymous reviewers. Most of all, much thanks and gratitude are due to my adviser, Adam Sennet, for all his help.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.1240 Social Science and HumanitiesUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA

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