Structural Counterfactuals: A Brief Introduction


  • Judea Pearl

    Corresponding author
    1. Computer Science Department, University of California, Los Angeles
    • Correspondence should be sent to Judea Pearl, University of California, Los Angeles, Computer Science Department, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-1596. E-mail:

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Recent advances in causal reasoning have given rise to a computational model that emulates the process by which humans generate, evaluate, and distinguish counterfactual sentences. Contrasted with the “possible worlds” account of counterfactuals, this “structural” model enjoys the advantages of representational economy, algorithmic simplicity, and conceptual clarity. This introduction traces the emergence of the structural model and gives a panoramic view of several applications where counterfactual reasoning has benefited problem areas in the empirical sciences.