A Peculiarity in Pearl’s Logic of Interventionist Counterfactuals

Jiji Zhang*, Wai-Yin Lam, Rafael De Clercq

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We examine a formal semantics for counterfactual conditionals due to Judea Pearl, which formalizes the interventionist interpretation of counterfactuals central to the interventionist accounts of causation and explanation. We show that a characteristic principle validated by Pearl’s semantics, known as the principle of reversibility, states a kind of irreversibility: counterfactual dependence (in David Lewis’s sense) between two distinct events is irreversible. Moreover, we show that Pearl’s semantics rules out only mutual counterfactual dependence, not cyclic dependence in general. This, we argue, suggests that Pearl’s logic is either too weak or too strong.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)783–794
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Philosophical Logic
Volume42
Issue number5
Early online date9 Nov 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013

User-Defined Keywords

  • Causal model
  • Counterfactual logic
  • Counterfactual dependence
  • Interventionism

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