Moritz Schulz – Counterfactuals and Epistemic Modals

Our subjective probabilities of counterfactuals seem to be coordinated by a certain conception of counterfactual chances: it seems likely that I would have lost if I had bought me a lottery ticket because in most but not all relevant cases my ticket loses. Is this a feature of the truth conditions of counterfactuals? Or does it manifest a special mode of counterfactual thinking? Linguistically, the question is whether typical applications of epistemic modals to counterfactuals should be assigned genuine wide scope or whether they should rather be construed as having a certain kind of restricted scope. In this paper, I argue for the wide scope decomposition. For this to be possible, I develop a theory of counterfactuals according to which counterfactual thinking is best explained as thinking about arbitrary worlds at which the antecedent is true. A corresponding semantics for counterfactuals will be developed in terms of the epsilon-operator.

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