Title: Useful Counterfactuals
Authors: Tom Costello and John McCarthy
Series: Linkping Electronic Articles in Computer and Information Science
ISSN 1401-9841
Issue: Vol. 4 (1999), No. 012
URL: http://www.ep.liu.se/ea/cis/1999/012/

Abstract: Counterfactual conditional sentences can be useful in artificial intelligence. In particular, they allow reasoners to learn from experiences that they did not quite have. The truth of a counterfactual and the conclusions that can be drawn from a counterfactual are theory dependent, and different theories are useful in different circumstances.

A simple class of useful counterfactuals involves a change of one component of a point in a space provided with a cartesian product structure. We call these cartesian counterfactuals. Cartesian counterfactuals can be modeled by assignment and contents functions as in program semantics. We also study the more general tree-structured counterfactuals.

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