Informative counterfactuals

Todd Snider, Adam Bjorndahl


A single counterfactual conditional can have a multitude of interpretations that differ, intuitively, in the connection between antecedent and consequent. Using structural equation models (SEMs) to represent event dependencies, we illustrate various types of explanation compatible with a given counterfactual. We then formalize in the SEM framework the notion of an acceptable explanation, identifying the class of event dependencies compatible with a given counterfactual. Finally, by incorporating SEMs into possible worlds, we provide an update semantics with the enriched structure necessary for the evaluation of counterfactual conditionals.

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