Zoom Talk (Work in Progress): William D'Alessandro (MCMP)
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Counterfactuals and Mathematical Explanation: A Litany of Woes
Counterfactual theories propose to ground facts about explanation in the truth and falsity of certain counterfactual conditionals. The counterfactual approach to causal explanation has a long history. Some theorists in this tradition have also aimed to bring noncausal explanations under their banner, thereby forging a truly universal account of explanation. Recent work by Baron, Colyvan and Ripley and Reutlinger, Colyvan and Krzyżanowska addresses the case of explanation in pure mathematics. I pose six problems for the counterfactual approach to mathematical explanation, having to do with degrees of explanatory goodness, asymmetry, diverse explanantia, overgeneration, undergeneration and epistemic value.