Talk:Counterfactual conditional

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Opening paragraph[edit]

I found the discussion immediately following the table of contents quite lucid, and I learned a lot. But when I re-read the paragraph above the table of contents, the one at the top, it seems to contradict much of what I'd learned. I paste it here in its entirety:

A counterfactual conditional, subjunctive conditional, or remote conditional, abbreviated CF, is a conditional (or "if-then") statement indicating what would be the case if its antecedent were true (although it is not true). This is to be contrasted with an indicative conditional, which indicates what is (in fact) the case if its antecedent were (in fact) true (which it may or may not be).

Note that it says that a CF is an if-then statement, whereas we read below that it is an if-clause. I believe the latter; it makes more sense. As for the implied distinction between "condition" and "conditional", it makes sense to me that using "conditional" as a noun is a shortening of "conditional proposition", so it could be regarded, in ordinary parlance, as a "condition", although referring to it as such isn't precise enough for our purposes.

Now, is it true that a CF is all of these things, a "counterfactual conditional, subjunctive conditional, ... remote conditional", and they all mean the same thing? I doubt that very much. "Counterfactual" seems to say "contrary to fact", which the other adjectives don't. If I make a statement contrary to fact, I'd use the indicative mood: "Footwear is worn on the head." But if I make a subjunctive statement, I use the subjunctive mood: "If he wins (my grammar teacher taught me to say, "If he win"), I'll eat my hat!" As for "remote", I don't know, but it sounds like a case which is remotely possible, but unlikely. I'll learn more when I grow up.

Then there's that darned word, "antecedent", which is utterly dependent on which comes first, the if or the then. I couldn't care less what comes first, but I wish protases weren't confused with antecedents. Everybody, more or less ;-) can understand "IF-clause", can't we? That's what the statement is talking about -- a protasis, not an antecedent.

Moving right along, "what would be the case if its antecedent were true (although it is not true)." This is a contradiction of the notion that the CF is an if-then statement, which contains two propositions, and "its antecedent" should refer to something preceding that statement, rather than a part of it, which is patently absurd.

"although it is not true" flatly contradicts the idea of "subjunctive", which leaves the possibility open!

"This is to be contrasted with an indicative conditional, which indicates what is (in fact) the case if its antecedent were (in fact) true (which it may or may not be)."

It was I who changed "is" to "were", but it hardly makes a difference. It isn't a truth issue which is at fault here, but a continuation of the confused notion that a thing is both itself and a part of itself. Is it the complete if-then statement that all these adjectives refer to? Of course not; it's the if-clause (the protasis) alone.

So I'm going to do some radical revision there, assuming the lucid paragraph is right. Grrr... --Marshall Price (talk) 16:29, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

False dichotomy: counterfactual, indicative[edit]

As I understand it, factual and counterfactual, and indicative and subjunctive, are true dichotomies, but the article still seems to oppose counterfactual with indicative, a false dichotomy. "If the sky were orange" is counterfactual (assuming the sky be blue) and subjunctive. "If the sky be orange" is not counterfactual, but it is subjunctive. "If your cattle eat corn" is neither factual nor counterfactual, but it is indicative, I think. It's also conditional, but I'm not sure whether that's a valid category. I think that simply means it's part of an if-then statement. "If Grant became President" is factual and indicative. It actually happened. I think philosophers ought to get medals. They probably do. (talk) 17:33, 24 May 2014 (UTC)

Meaninglessness of "be the case that"[edit]

"If it were the case that A, then it would be the case that B." This sentence is supposed to illustrate something, but what it expresses (aside from "If A, then B") is utterly beyond me. I doubt that looking up "case" in the dictionary is going to be of much help, and the surrounding discussion doesn't help much, either. --Marshall "Unfree" Price (talk) 01:42, 26 May 2014 (UTC)

Uniqueness and Limit Assumption[edit]

The article states in the section "Possible world semantics":

The Uniqueness Assumption is the thesis that, for any antecedent A, there is a unique possible world where A is true, while the Limit Assumption is the thesis that, for a given antecedent A, there is a unique set of worlds where A is true that are closest.

This is not correct. It is easy to see why: The way it is phrased in the article, the Uniqueness Assumption would imply that every antecedent of a conditional is true in only one world. But of course, no such thing is intended. Rather, the Uniqueness Assumption states the following: For every world w and every proposition A, there is at most one A-world that is more similar (closer) to w than every other A-world. Similarly for the Limit Assumption (which, in its current form, doesn't even really makes sense since the final word "closest" runs empty -- closest to what?).

If no one objects, I will changes this in a couple of days. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:59, 12 February 2016 (UTC)