The Journal of Philosophy

Volume 118, Issue 7, July 2021

David Boylan, Ginger Schultheis
Pages 373-404

How Strong Is a Counterfactual?

The literature on counterfactuals is dominated by strict accounts (SA) and variably strict accounts (VSA). Counterexamples to the principle of Antecedent Strengthening were thought to be fatal to SA; but it has been shown that by adding dynamic resources to the view, such examples can be accounted for. We broaden the debate between VSA and SA by focusing on a new strengthening principle, Strengthening with a Possibility. We show dynamic SA classically validates this principle. We give a counterexample to it and show that extra dynamic resources cannot help SA. We then show VSA accounts for the counterexample if it allows for orderings on worlds that are not almost-connected, and that such an ordering naturally falls out of a Kratzerian ordering source semantics. We conclude that the failure of Strengthening with a Possibility tells strongly against Dynamic SA and in favor of an ordering source-based version of VSA.