Results: Circular Dependency of Counterfactuals Prize
Now that the deadline has passed, I thought I should announce the winner of my competition on the Circular Dependency of Counterfactuals.
The winner is tailcalled with their post Some thoughts on “The Nature of Counterfactuals”.
There were a few things I liked about the post. Firstly, it directly engaged with the topic. Some people’s responses were primarily about something else, but they tried to shape it to be relevant to the competition. That’s totally understandable. If someone else posted a bounty and I was already interested in something similar but which was not quite the main focus, I’d probably try to my luck as well. However, that wasn’t quite what I was looking for.
Secondly, it avoided the trap that some of the other responses fell into where they tried to demonstrate that counterfactuals weren’t circular by showing that counterfactuals could be explained in terms of Y, but without explaining why Y might need counterfactuals in order to make sense. In contrast, Tailcall’s argument was that counterfactuals could be defined in terms of causality and that it bottoms out there as causality has an ontologically real existence. They were able to give some plausible reasons for believing this. I’m still not sure whether I buy their argument or not, but at the very least they managed to identify a non-obvious argument that I failed to adequately engage with. Beyond this, it will also provide a solid target for engagement when I write on this topic in the future. Their post covered other topics too, but these aspects are what won them the prize.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to find time to write up a proper response to their argument, but for now congratulations!
The prize will actually be $1100 USD since I had originally planned to award a social media prize, but that didn’t really work out. No one really posted any Facebook posts or Twitter threads on this.