more from Thomas Mautner

Single Idea 6884

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

Full Idea

A counterfactual conditional (or 'counterfactual') is a proposition or sentence of the form 'If it had been the case that p, then it would have been the case that q', or 'If it were the case that p, then it would be the case that q'.

Gist of Idea

Counterfactuals say 'If it had been, or were, p, then it would be q'


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

Book Reference

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

A Reaction

The first statement refers to the past, but the second (a subjunctive) refers to any situation at any time. We know more about inferences that we could have made in the past than we do about what is inferable at absolutely any time.