counterfactuals

English translation: conditional propositions of the form \"If cause A were not true, effect C would not be true\".

GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:counterfactuals
Selected answer:conditional propositions of the form \"If cause A were not true, effect C would not be true\".
Entered by: Danila Moro

10:29 Mar 22, 2015
English language (monolingual) [PRO]
Medical - Philosophy / Campbell's conception on causality in mental life
English term or phrase: counterfactuals
Second, there is, on this view, also no reason to think that causal links within the psychological domain need to be intelligible. As long as the right kind of interventionist counterfactuals hold between two mental states, the first one can causally explain the second one, irrespective of whether there are any intelligible connections between them.


http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/philosophy/people/faculty/...
Danila Moro
Italy
Local time: 17:55
conditional propositions of the form "If cause A were not true, effect C would not be true".
Explanation:
Counterfactuals means propositions, as explanations of causality, of a conditional form: A causes C if it is the case that if A were not true, or had not occurred, C would not be true or would not have occurred. In other words, they are counterfactual in the sense that they posit a hypothetical situation that is contrary to the facts: A does in fact exist/has in fact occurred/is in fact the case; what would follow if it did not/had not/were not?

This type of reasoning was first articulated by David Hume: "We may define a cause to be an object followed by another [...] where, if the first object had not been, the second never had existed."

Thus in terms of a causal relationship between two mental states, mental state A causes mental state C if, in the absence of mental state A, mental state C would not exist. The counterfactual holds if this is the case: if it is true that state C would not exist in the absence of state A.

Campbell is saying that if such conditional counterfactual propositions hold, we can say that the mental states are causally connected, but the connection does not need to be intelligible: we do not need to be able to understand rationally why, in the absence of A, C would not exist.

There is a very good, clear explanation of counterfactual theories of causation here:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/causation-counterfactual/

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Note added at 2 hrs (2015-03-22 13:23:31 GMT)
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It might have been clearer if I had put "If the first mental state did not exist, the second would not exist" in the answer box.
Selected response from:

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 17:55
Grading comment
thank you very much for your clear and exhaustive explanation.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer



SUMMARY OF ALL EXPLANATIONS PROVIDED
4 +2conditional propositions of the form "If cause A were not true, effect C would not be true".
Charles Davis


Discussion entries: 6





  

Answers


2 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +2
conditional propositions of the form "If cause A were not true, effect C would not be true".


Explanation:
Counterfactuals means propositions, as explanations of causality, of a conditional form: A causes C if it is the case that if A were not true, or had not occurred, C would not be true or would not have occurred. In other words, they are counterfactual in the sense that they posit a hypothetical situation that is contrary to the facts: A does in fact exist/has in fact occurred/is in fact the case; what would follow if it did not/had not/were not?

This type of reasoning was first articulated by David Hume: "We may define a cause to be an object followed by another [...] where, if the first object had not been, the second never had existed."

Thus in terms of a causal relationship between two mental states, mental state A causes mental state C if, in the absence of mental state A, mental state C would not exist. The counterfactual holds if this is the case: if it is true that state C would not exist in the absence of state A.

Campbell is saying that if such conditional counterfactual propositions hold, we can say that the mental states are causally connected, but the connection does not need to be intelligible: we do not need to be able to understand rationally why, in the absence of A, C would not exist.

There is a very good, clear explanation of counterfactual theories of causation here:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/causation-counterfactual/

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2 hrs (2015-03-22 13:23:31 GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

It might have been clearer if I had put "If the first mental state did not exist, the second would not exist" in the answer box.

Charles Davis
Spain
Local time: 17:55
Works in field
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in category: 16
Grading comment
thank you very much for your clear and exhaustive explanation.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Patricia Fierro, M. Sc.
9 hrs
  -> Thanks, Patricia :)

agree  Veronika McLaren
23 hrs
  -> Thanks, Veronika :)
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