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

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Journal of Philosophical Logic, ISSN: 0022-3611, Vol: 44, Issue: 1, Page: 81-110

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Huber, Franz
Springer Nature; Springer
Arts and Humanities
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article description
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.