Dictionary of Arguments

Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute

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Disputed term/author/ism Author Vs Author
Fine, Kit Lewis Vs Fine, Kit V 41
Analysis 2: a counterfactual conditional "If it were the case that A, then it would be the case that C" is true then and only when a (accessible) world where A and C are true is everywhere more similar to our actual world than a world where A is true and C is false.
V 43
Kit FineVsLewis/VsAnalysis 2: e.g. the counterfactual conditional "If Richard Nixon had pushed the button, there would have been a nuclear holocaust" is true or can be imagined as being true. According to Lewis' analysis the co.co. is then probably wrong because by imagining just a slight change in reality, the effects will not exist. >Counterfactual conditional. LewisVsFine: Surely the event or not of an atomic holocaust will strongly contribute to a basing relation or not.
But the similarity relation (s.r.) which rules over the counterfactual conditionals is not one of those! Still, s.r. can be a relation for similarity everywhere, but not because it determines explicit judgments, rather because it is a result of many single similarity relations according to particular priorities of evaluation.
V 44
w0: e.g. Nixon pushed the button at the time t. w0. This can but does not need to be in our actual world. This world could have deterministic laws, and the world is sufficient for our darkest visions of buttons that are pushed. A nuclear holocaust happens because all connections of the button do work. There are now all possible worlds where Nixon pushes the button, but those worlds are different from our actual world. Which world resembles our the most? Some are simply squib loads or the missile is simply filled with confetti.
e.g. w1: w1 is exactly like w0 until shortly before t. In the last moment both worlds diverge: In w1 the deterministic laws of w0 are violated.
Lewis: Supposing a minuscule little miracle happens: Maybe some extra neurons in Nixon's brain. As a result, Nixon pushes these extra neurons. The holocaust happens. As such, both worlds are quite different from each other, at least regarding the surface of the planet. ((s) It was only counterfactual in w0 : If he pushes, the holocaust would happen.)
Lewis: so w1 is sufficient for analysis 1 (asymetry by postulate.) (We assume that we are in w0.) It should appear that worlds, like w1 in the basing relation, have more resemblance than all the other worlds in which Nixon would have pushed the button.
Miracle/Lewis: I simply mean the violation of laws of nature. But the violated laws are not in the same world! This would be impossible!
V 45
Miracle: Relation between possible worlds because the laws of a single world are not violated! w2: A second class of candidates of worlds that resemble w0 the most: without any miracle, the deterministic laws of w0 are followed exactly.
Difference to w0: Nixon pushes the button.
Determinism: After this, both worlds are either always or never the same. This is why both are never exactly the same for any period of time. They are even different in the past of a long time ago.
Problem: It cannot be stated what can be done in order to make the difference in recent past disappear. It is difficult to imagine how two deterministic worlds an actually be only slightly different over a long period of time. There is too much probability for small differences, which become a big sum.
Naturally, worlds like w2 are not the most similar world for a world w0 in which Nixon pushes the button. This would lead to infinite backwards arguments.
Bennett: counterfactual conditionals would also be rendered senseless. We do not know enough to know which of them would be true.
To conclude: what we learn by comparing w1 to w2: in the basing relations, a small miracle is needed in order to have a perfect concordance of single facts.
w3: begins like w1: w3 is exactly like w0 until shortly before t. Then a small miracle happens, Nixon pushes the button, but there is no war!
This is because a second small miracle happens immediately after the push. It can as localized as the first one. The fatal signal is erased. Still, Nixon's action has left its marks: his fingerprints on the button, an empty bottle of gin, etc.
V 46
There are numerous differences between w3 and w0, but no one is particularly important. w3: There is more than only small differences, e.g. Nixon's memoirs have no influence on later generations, etc.
But even if it is unclear whether the differences will have strong repercussions it is not important.

Schwarz I 51
Counterfactual Conditional/co.co./FineVsLewis: His analysis clearly gives wrong results even with our vague intuitive similarity standards, e.g. "If Richard Nixon had pushed the button, there would have been a nuclear war". Problem: A possible world, in which Nixon pushed the button and an atomic war was started, must then resemble our actual world more than a world, in which he pushed the button, the mechanism failed and nothing happened. But an undestroyed world should surely have more similarities with our world? LewisVsFine: Here wrong resemblance criteria were used. The important categories are those in which his analysis is proven correct. We need to find out what we now about truth and wrongness of the co.co. in order to ascertain whether we can find a sort of basing relation.[ (1979b,43, 1986f,211).
Lewis/Schwarz: this is why his theory of counterfactual conditionals is more a frame for such theories. Analysis tells us which sort of facts make co.co. true, but it does not tell us for which specific conditionals in specific contexts they are.

Lewis I
David K. Lewis
Die Identität von Körper und Geist Frankfurt 1989

Lewis I (a)
David K. Lewis
An Argument for the Identity Theory, in: Journal of Philosophy 63 (1966)
Die Identität von Körper und Geist, Frankfurt/M. 1989

Lewis I (b)
David K. Lewis
Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications, in: Australasian Journal of Philosophy 50 (1972)
Die Identität von Körper und Geist, Frankfurt/M. 1989

Lewis I (c)
David K. Lewis
Mad Pain and Martian Pain, Readings in Philosophy of Psychology, Vol. 1, Ned Block (ed.) Harvard University Press, 1980
Die Identität von Körper und Geist, Frankfurt/M. 1989

Lewis II
David K. Lewis
"Languages and Language", in: K. Gunderson (Ed.), Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. VII, Language, Mind, and Knowledge, Minneapolis 1975, pp. 3-35
Handlung, Kommunikation, Bedeutung, Georg Meggle Frankfurt/M. 1979

Lewis IV
David K. Lewis
Philosophical Papers Bd I New York Oxford 1983

Lewis V
David K. Lewis
Philosophical Papers Bd II New York Oxford 1986

Lewis VI
David K. Lewis
Convention. A Philosophical Study, Cambridge/MA 1969
German Edition:
Konventionen Berlin 1975

Clarence Irving Lewis
Collected Papers of Clarence Irving Lewis Stanford 1970

LewisCl I
Clarence Irving Lewis
Mind and the World Order: Outline of a Theory of Knowledge (Dover Books on Western Philosophy) 1991

Schw I
W. Schwarz
David Lewis Bielefeld 2005