Michael Tooley (2002) has argued that if a certain kind of backward causation is possible, then a Stalnaker-Lewis style comparative world similarity account of the truth conditions of counterfactuals cannot be sound. Tooley’s target is one particular type of semantics, but, in what follows, I will show that the significance of Tooley’s example goes well beyond its consequences for any one semantics for the conditional. Indeed, Tooley’s counter-example proves rather more and yet, as we will see, somewhat less than Tooley claimed for it.

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Tooley (2002: 195) describes three possible worlds W0, W1, and W2 as follows:

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Suppose that W0 is governed by a forward causal law (Law 1) and a backward causal law (Law 2):

  • Law 1:For any location x, and time t, if location x has both property P and property Q at time...

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