Should Special Science Laws Be Written into the Semantics of Counterfactuals?

  • 1 Università degli Studi di Milano, Dipartimento di Filosofia

Abstract

Adam Elga has presented an anti-thermodynamic process as a counterexample to Lewis’s default semantics for counterfactuals. The outstanding reaction of Jonathan Schaffer and Boris Kment is revisionary. It sacrifices Lewis’s aim of defining causation in terms of counterfactual dependence. Lewis himself suggested an alternative: «counter-entropic funnybusiness» should make for dissimilarity. But how is this alternative to be spelled out? I discuss a recent proposal: include special science laws, among them the laws of thermodynamics. Although the proposal fails, it serves to uncover the limits of Elga’s example.

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