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.
Williamson, T., “Counterpossibles” (Can be found here: http://
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