This article, which is concerned with counterfactuals insofar as they relate to causal inference about singular events, concentrates on counterfactuals that are closely connected to claims about actual causation. The claims about actual causation are important in the social sciences and the counterfactual approach to actual causation is a significant one, even if it is not universally valid. In David Lewis's account, the notion of natural law plays a crucial role. Social science counterfactuals sometimes involve backtracking. The article then introduces a (philosophical) theory of counterfactuals that makes use of causal modeling tools. Furthermore, the problems of circularity, backtracking, actual causation, and indeterminacy are the four problems that trouble the theory of counterfactuals. It is noted that the counterfactuals are useful for purposes other than causal inference. Counterfactual speculation may sometimes be the only way to make causal inferences about singular events.
Thomas M. Crisp
Presentism, roughly, is the thesis that only the present is real. The opposite view is eternalism or four-dimensionalism, the thesis that reality consists of past, present, and future entities. After spelling out the presentist's thesis more carefully, something can be said about why one might think it true. This article develops four prominent objections to presentism and says something about how the presentist might reply to each. There are no knock-down arguments for presentism, like most other substantive theses in philosophy, it cannot be established conclusively. It is, however, a natural position to take given certain metaphysical and linguistic commitments.
D. H. Mellor
Many scientists, and some philosophers, still accept the canard that there is no such thing as progress in philosophy. There is no better way to scotch this canard than to see how far the philosophy of time has come in the last hundred years. The advance started with two developments at the start of the last century, one in physics and one in metaphysics, Einstein's 1905 special theory of relativity, and McTaggart's A- and B-series theory of time and change. They revealed unexpected problems with two basic assumptions about time: that it is independent of space, and that it flows. These revelations, and later work in other areas of physics and philosophy, have greatly changed our ideas about time, and still inform the best work on its philosophy.