more from Thomas Mautner

Single Idea 6882

[catalogued under 10. Modality / B. Possibility / 9. Counterfactuals]

Full Idea

A conditional is called counterfactual because its use seems to presuppose that the user believes its antecedent to be false. Some insist that the antecedent must actually be false.


The 'antecedent' is the 'If..' part of the counterfactual claim, not the 'Then..'

Gist of Idea

Counterfactuals presuppose a belief (or a fact) that the condition is false


Thomas Mautner (Penguin Dictionary of Philosophy [1996], p.114)

Book Reference

Mautner,Thomas: 'Dictionary of Philosophy' [Penguin 1997], p.114

A Reaction

I am inclined to favour the stricter second version. "If I am on Earth then I have weight" hardly sounds counterfactual. However, in "If there is a God then I will be saved" it is not clear whether it is counterfactual, so it had better be included.