The similarity approach strikes back: Negation in counterfactuals


  • Katrin Schulz


The meaning of counterfactual conditionals is standardly described using the similarity approach (Stalnaker, 1968; Lewis, 1973). This approach has recently been challenged by Ciardelli et al. (2018). They argue that the similarity approach is in principle unable to account for the meaning of counterfactuals with an antecedent consisting of a conjunction embedded under a negation (¬(p^q)). Ciardelli et al. (2018) dismiss the approach on these grounds and offer an alternative. The main goal of the present paper is to defend the similarity approach against this attack. I will argue that the problem that underlies the observations in Ciardelli et al. 2018 is more general and not solved by the solution they offer. I will furthermore argue, against Ciardelli et al. (2018), that the cause of the problem is not the similarity approach, but the interaction of negation with the meaning of counterfactual conditionals. The paper will conclude with a first outline of a solution for the problem, which still uses the similarity approach, but combines it with an alternative semantics for negation.




How to Cite

Schulz, K. (2019). The similarity approach strikes back: Negation in counterfactuals. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 22(2), 343–360. Retrieved from