Emery, Nina, and . The Metaphysical Consequences of Counterfactual Skepticism

2015, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 92 (3).

Abstract: A series of recent arguments purport to show that most counterfactuals of the form if A had happened then C would have happened are not true. These arguments pose a challenge to those of us who think that counterfactual discourse is a useful part of ordinary conversation, of philosophical reasoning, and of scientific inquiry. Either we find a way to revise the semantics for counterfactuals in order to avoid these arguments, or we find a way to ensure that the relevant counterfactuals, while not true, are still assertible. In this paper, the author argues that regardless of which of these two strategies we choose, the natural ways of implementing these strategies all share a surprising consequence: they commit us to a particular metaphysical view about chance.

Comment: Really detailed article about counterfactual skepticism and chance pluralism. Could be useful in metaphysics classes, although the paper has consequences for many other fields (eg. philosophy of science). In principle it is recomendable for postgraduate students or senior undergraduate students who are confident enough with the topic

Emery, Nina, and . Chance, Possibility and explanation

2015, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 0(2015): 1–64

Summary: In this paper the author argues against the common and influential view that non-trivial chances arise only when the fundamental laws are indeterministic. The problem with this view, she claims, is not that it conflicts with some antecedently plausible metaphysics of chance or that it fails to capture our everyday use of ‘chance’ and related terms, but rather that it is unstable. Any reason for adopting the position that non-trivial chances arise only when the fundamental laws are indeterministic is also a reason for adopting a much stronger, and far less attractive, position. Emery suggests an alternative account, according to which chances are probabilities that play a certain explanatory role: they are probabilities that explain associated frequencies.

Comment: This could serve as a secondary reading for those studying metaphysic theories of chance. Previous background in metaphysics is needed. The paper is recommended for postgraduate students.