Counterfactuals and the Principle of Explosion

A counterfactual is a fact that follows a false hypothetical. For instance, if I never was born, I would never have owned a truck. The argument follows, but is based on a false premise.

It’s how we can think what-if about the past. I can think what if I hadn’t done that, then this would’ve never happened. It’s not a fruitful line of thought. And brings us no closer to the truth. It’s the definition of regret.

There’s the bright side of it though: if this world is preferable to the counterfactual, the thought becomes positive.

A child from my wife’s hometown was killed by accident, and one of the siblings thought I should’ve been home. If I was home, it wouldn’t have happened. As before, this could very well be true, just not in our universe. So it’s a practically meaningless thought. Certainly not one helpful for the grieving process.

I think it’s also a great way to be unhappy. Instead of accepting what’s happened, we try to change it by imagining different impossible hypotheticals. 


The principle of explosion  is that  “from falsehood, anything follows.” This is known as deductive explosion.The proof of this principle was first given by 12th century French philosopher William of Soissons.

As a demonstration of the principle, consider two contradictory statements – “All lemons are yellow” and “Not all lemons are yellow”, and suppose that both are true. If that is the case, anything can be proven, e.g., the assertion that “unicorns exist”, by using the following argument:

1. All lemons are yellow.
2. All lemons are yellow OR unicorns exist.
3. Not all lemons are yellow, therefore unicorns exist. [Source]

In the spiritual world that we live in, I think this may be one of Satan’s greatest tactics. For example, if we remain undecided about an important past event, anything follows. In the above example, it cannot possibly be true that the sibling could have prevented the death. That world simply does not exist. So entertaining the thought creates a reality where anything is possible. And in this case, that is not a good thing.