David Lewis on Waves and Counterfactuals

Mathias Frisch

in Inconsistency, Asymmetry, and Non-Locality

Published in print May 2005 | ISBN: 9780195172157
Published online April 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780199835294 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in the Philosophy of Science

 David Lewis on Waves and Counterfactuals

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This chapter argues that David Lewis’ theses on the asymmetry of overdetermination and of an asymmetry of miracles are false. However, radiation asymmetry does support the claim that there is an asymmetry of counterfactuals, if the criteria of similarity between worlds are broadened to include certain types of qualitative agreement between worlds. But since the retardation condition, on which the asymmetry lies in the case of electrodynamics, is plausibly understood as a causal condition, the corrected and amended account cannot underwrite a Lewisian counterfactual analysis of causation.

Keywords: overdetermination; asymmetry of miracles; wave asymmetry; counterfactuals; retardation condition; radiation asymmetry

Chapter.  16367 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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