Library Header Image
LSE Research Online LSE Library Services

Counterfactual desirability

Bradley, Richard ORCID: 0000-0003-2184-7844 and Stefansson, H. Orii (2017) Counterfactual desirability. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 68 (2). 485 - 533. ISSN 0007-0882

PDF - Accepted Version
Download (607kB) | Preview

Identification Number: 10.1093/bjps/axv023


The desirability of what actually occurs is often influenced by what could have been. Preferences based on such value dependencies between actual and counterfactual outcomes generate a class of problems for orthodox decision theory, the best-known perhaps being the so-called Allais paradox. In this article we solve these problems by extending Richard Jeffrey’s decision theory to counterfactual prospects, using a multidimensional possible-world semantics for conditionals, and showing that preferences that are sensitive to counterfactual considerations can still be desirability-maximizing. We end the article by investigating the conditions necessary and sufficient for a desirability function to be a standard expected-utility function. It turns out that the additional conditions imply highly implausible epistemic principles.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2015 The Authors
Divisions: Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date Deposited: 18 Feb 2015 13:44
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2024 21:48
Projects: AH/J006033/1 to R.B., AH/I003118/1, 14-AXA-PDOC-222
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council, AXA Research Fund

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics