Our First Guest Lecture of Semester 2

PhilSoc Lecture Series: Prof. Timothy Williamson – “What if the Impossible were True?”

If Hobbes had succeeded in secretly squaring the circle, would sick children in the mountains of South America at the time have cared? The orthodox view is that if X is impossible then all conditionals of the form “If X had been the case, Y would have been the case” are true, but this view seems to face counterexamples. I will explain the important role of such “counterpossible” conditionals in several philosophical debates. Some philosophers have invoked “impossible worlds” to explain how they can be false. I will defend the orthodox view and suggest how the apparent counterexamples to it may result from a convenient but fallible heuristic on which we tend to rely.

Suggested Reading:
Williamson, T., “Counterpossibles” (Can be found here: http://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/37756/Counterpossibles.pdf)

This talk will begin at 6.15pm, and we recommend you get there five to ten minutes early. Lectures are free for members of the Edinburgh University Philosophy Society, and £2.50 for non-members.

Appleton Tower Lecture Theatre 1