counterfactual

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counterfactual

or

counterfactual conditional

a conditional statement, of the form ‘if a , then b’, in which the assertion is that ‘were a to have occurred, then b would have followed’, as in ‘had the Greeks lost the Battle of Marathon, then a different historical outcome from the uniquely Western route to modernity would have been the outcome’. Since the ‘antecedent’ (the first clause of the statement) in such counterfactual statements is unfulfilled, the empirical assessment of the claim involved in the ‘consequent’ (the second clause) presents some difficulties. The plausibility of such statements depends on the possibility of citing convincing supporting evidence which can justify the conditional statement.
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