Journal of Philosophical Logic

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 81–110 | Cite as

What Should I Believe About What Would Have Been the Case?

Article

Abstract

The question I am addressing in this paper is the following: how is it possible to empirically test, or confirm, counterfactuals? After motivating this question in Section 1, I will look at two approaches to counterfactuals, and at how counterfactuals can be empirically tested, or confirmed, if at all, on these accounts in Section 2. I will then digress into the philosophy of probability in Section 3. The reason for this digression is that I want to use the way observable absolute and relative frequencies, two empirical notions, are used to empirically test, or confirm, hypotheses about objective chances, a metaphysical notion, as a role-model. Specifically, I want to use this probabilistic account of the testing of chance hypotheses as a role-model for the account of the testing of counterfactuals, another metaphysical notion, that I will present in Sections 4 to 8. I will conclude by comparing my proposal to one non-probabilistic and one probabilistic alternative in Section 9.

Keywords

Counterfactuals Conditional belief Chance Credence Confirmation Probability measures Ranking functions 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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