Single Idea 15720

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

Full Idea

The traits to suppose preserved in a counterfactual depend on sympathy for the fabulist's purpose. Compare 'If Caesar were in command, he would use the atom bomb', and 'If Caesar were in command, he would use catapults'.

Gist of Idea

What stays the same in assessing a counterfactual antecedent depends on context

Source

Willard Quine (Word and Object [1960], 46)

Book Reference

Quine,Willard: 'Word and Object' [MIT 1969], p.222


A Reaction

This seems to be an important example for the Lewis approach, since you are asked to consider the 'nearest' possible world, but that will depend on context.