The Problem of Counterfactual Conditionals


Goodman, Nelson (1946 / 1983). Fact, Fiction, and Forecast. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. S.3.

The analysis of counterfactual conditionals is no fussy little grammatical exercise. Indeed, if we lack the means for interpreting counterfactual conditionals, we can hardly claim to have any adequate philosophy of science. A satisfactory definition of scientific law, a satisfactory theory of confirmation or of disposition terms ( and this includes not only predicates ending in „ible“ and „able“ but almost every objective predicate, such as „is red“), would solve a large part of the problem of counterfactuals. Conversely, a solution to the problem of counterfactuals would give us the answer to critical questions about law, confirmation, and the meaning of potentiality.