Counterfactual Availability and Causal Judgment

Christopher Hitchcock

in Understanding Counterfactuals, Understanding Causation

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199590698
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731242 | DOI:

Series: Consciousness & Self-Consciousness Series

Counterfactual Availability and Causal Judgment

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Although there are problems with efforts to analyze causation in terms of counterfactuals, mainly stemming from pre-emption, it is clear that causation and counterfactuals are closely related. While philosophers have primarily been interested in questions concerning the semantics of counterfactuals—which counterfactuals are true, and what are the logical relations among counterfactuals and other claims—psychologists have been interested in the question of which counterfactual possibilities we actually entertain. Psychologists have enumerated a number of factors that render certain counterfactual possibilities readily ‘available’. I argue that we can expect these factors to exert a related influence on causal judgements, and connect this thesis with a number of discussions from the philosophical literature on causation.

Keywords: causation; counterfactual; counterfactual availability; Kahneman; Daniel; Knobe; Joshua; Lewis; David; norms; Tversky; Amos

Chapter.  7002 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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