- Paperback: 168 pages
- Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2nd edition (January 17, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0631224254
- ISBN-13: 978-0631224259
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.5 x 9.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Counterfactuals 2nd Edition
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"'Contrary-to-fact conditionals have provided logical analysts with fascinating puzzles. (This book) has a unitary theme presented clearly and attractively for the most part with only the unavoidable minimum of formal apparatus. The theme is pursued confidently and relentlessly without evasions or qualifications." Times Literary Supplement
"This is an excellent book. It combines shrewd philosophical sense with a fine technical expertise. The statement of views is concise and forthright." Kit Fine, Mind
"This essay is a virtuoso performance." British Journal for the Philosophy of Science
"Beautifully and lucidly written and full of clever ideas. It contains very many philosophical insights and comparisons." J. J. C. Smart, Australasian Journal of Philosophy
From the Back Cover
Counterfactuals is David Lewis's forceful presentation of and sustained argument for a particular view about propositions which express contrary-to-fact conditionals, including his famous defense of realism about possible worlds. Since its original publication in 1973, it has become a classic of contemporary philosophy, and is essential reading for anyone interested in the logic and metaphysics of counterfactuals. The book also includes an appendix of related writings by Lewis.
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Readers may be entertained by Lewis' occasional mention of flamingos and black and white swans to illustrate the subtle problems present in modal realism.
I was deeply inspired by the book, including it as a reference in The Dimensional Philosopher's Toolkit, my recently published book. However, as a warning, it is not really light reading. It just happens to have a very light approach to logic which is commonly more complex than it appears in this treatment. But unlike many other books, in this case the light treatment is combined with a rigorous understanding of how to not make mistakes. What may be unfortunate is that that may be the ultimate conclusion of the book, and that conclusion is really only reserved for advanced readers. But advanced readers modal realists are. So the only question is, does the book add anything to modal realism? I think it does, although I don't give it five stars, because this is not (literally) a book of aphorisms, or, in fact, the quickest approach. But it provided serious hints for a perspective on philosophy that is utterly different.
"Counterfactuals" is that rarest of things: a truly original philosophical work that actually *succeeds* in its stated aim. To my knowledge, the only person, in the whole history of philosophy, to have developed an even remotely similar approach to the problem of counterfactuals is Robert Stalnaker, and Lewis' work is I think indisputably superior, subsuming Stalnaker's approach as a special (and doubtful) case. (Both works were, historically speaking, made yesterday--a mere generation ago.) If I am right in thinking that Lewis' theory is substantially correct, then he would seem to be the first man in history to have achieved a philosophically adequate understanding of counterfactuals. This book, in my opinion, represents a fundamental breakthrough in logic and metaphysics, for which we owe its author a debt as great as that owed to Kripke, perhaps even comparable to that which mathematics and logic owe to the works of Frege.