Why Lewis 's Understanding Of Counterfactuals Develops The Need For Transitivity

2048 Words Oct 30th, 2016 9 Pages
During this essay, I will explain why Lewis’s understanding of counterfactuals develops the need for transitivity, and argue that although the notion of causal transitivity is useful to us (and necessary under Lewis’s 1978 account of counterfactual analysis), Lewis himself fails to provide an adequate response to meaningful counterexamples against it. Finally, I will present and evaluate an alternative rebuttal to these counterexamples, concluding that the transitivity of causation is not as unintuitive as it’s opponents would have us think, and that Lewis’s account of counterfactual analyses remains a useful compass for further philosophic investigation, rather than an irrefutable account in itself.

So to begin, let us first understand the context in which causal transitivity is discussed. Counterfactuals are conditionals which as the name may suggest, are contrary to fact. Consider the example “If I had not kicked the ball, it would not have landed in the net”. This simple negation of fact seems to point towards some intuitive notion of causality. After all, the fact that a thing (the ball hitting the back of the net) would not have happened had it been prompted by the antecedent (me kicking the ball). Were we to take our former example, and give our antecedent and consequent atomic propositions, then we might have something like “if P occurs, then Q occurs”, where P and Q are two distinct and sequential events. Counterfactual analyses then investigate cases in which “if…

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