COUNTERFACTUALS (was: Re: Quotes and Misquotes)

Damien Broderick (
Mon, 13 Oct 1997 11:15:05 +0000

At 12:47 PM 10/12/97 -0400, a lexical expert wrote:

>As for, > and even though counterfactual processes are built into the basic
> >ontological substrate of reality (quantum mechanics; the
>Schrodinger > >equation and linear evolution).
>I haven't heard of this before either. What is it supposed to mean? I don't
>know and considering terminology like "counterfactual processes" seriously
>doubt that anyone else does either. [...]
>Definitions are my forte.

Really. One might doubt this.

Counterfactual conditional statements are the basis of the logic of
scientific thought experiments and play an important role in modal logic.
They take the general form `if it were the case that p - which it is not -
then q'.

Or is it the conjuncture of `counterfactual' and `processes' that troubles
you? I assume Eli is referring to path integral analysis in QT where the
actual observed event contains folded within its evolution, so to speak,
all the other alternative possible outcomes of the initial preparation. In
David Deutsch's updating ot the Everett position on Many Worlds in QT,
these counterfactual realities are indeed equally real, in orthogonal
universes, and impact directly upon each other.

Damien Broderick