Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 January 2022
Substantive counterlegal discourse poses a problem for those according to whom the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. I discern two types of necessitarianism about laws: dispositional essentialism and modal necessitarianism. I argue that Toby Handfield’s response to the problem of counterlegals cannot help the modal necessitarian, according to whom all possible worlds are identical with respect to the laws. I thus propose a fictionalist treatment of counterlegals. Fictions are not limited by metaphysical possibility; hence, fictionalism affords the modal necessitarian the means to account for the apparent substance of counterlegals even granting the metaphysical necessity of the laws.
I am grateful to Eleanor Knox and to Barbara Vetter for discussion of these ideas and feedback on earlier drafts.