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Counterfactual Truths: The Logical Structure of Argumentative Thought Experiments

Álvarez-Vázquez, Javier Y.

In: International Journal of Novel Research in Humanity and Social Sciences, 2 (April 2015), Nr. 2. pp. 1-3. ISSN 2394-9694

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Argumentative thought experiments are structurally conditional clauses. They can hence be formalized by means of the principle of modus ponendo ponens, as well as of modus tollendo tollens. In contrast to the practice in formal logic, exponents of argumentative thought experiments claim that the logical validity of a conclusion drawn within the framework of a particular conditional argument also holds beyond the particular conditional in question. In this paper, I articulate the criticism that this claim is wrong by arguing that the counterfactual scenario sets itself the most determinant premise. If the counterfactual scenario sets the initial conditional premise of the argument, then its true conclusion holds only as a counterfactual truth. The present paper illustrates this criticism using Frank Jackson’s thought experiment, the so-called knowledge argument, as a concrete example.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Novel Research in Humanity and Social Sciences
Volume: 2
Number: 2
Publisher: Novelty Journals
Place of Publication: Lucknow,U.P., India
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2015 07:49
Date: April 2015
ISSN: 2394-9694
Page Range: pp. 1-3
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Philosophisches Seminar
Subjects: 000 Generalities, Science
100 Philosophy
150 Psychology
400 Linguistics
500 Natural sciences and mathematics
Controlled Keywords: thought experiments, counterfactual scenario, truth, knowledge argument, Frank Jackson, modus ponendo ponens, modus tollendo tollens, validity, valuation
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