Definition of counterfactual in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌkoun(t)ərˈfak(t)SH(əw)əl/


Relating to or expressing what has not happened or is not the case.
Example sentences
  • But to generate knowledge independently of experience, a priori warrants must produce warranted true belief in counterfactual situations where experiences are different.
  • I also raise some questions concerning conceptual priority, and the issue of whether counterfactual analyses of causation are compatible with the view that causal relations are purely objective.
  • Concerning ordinary physical objects, it is easy to imagine counterfactual cases where questions of identity become problematic.


A counterfactual conditional statement (e.g., If kangaroos had no tails, they would topple over).
Example sentences
  • Such a semantics states truth conditions for counterfactuals in terms of relations among possible worlds.
  • Recent attempts to analyze causation in terms of probabilistic counterfactuals have become quite intricate; see for example Noordhof.
  • The moral to be drawn is that causation may imply that certain counterfactuals hold, but the holding of counterfactuals is not enough to show causation.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: coun·ter·fac·tu·al

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