Counterfactual analysis as fatalism

‘Many counterfactual analyses are based, explicitly or implicitly, on an attitude that I term fatalism. This considers the various potential responses \(Y_{i}(u)\), when treatment \(i\) is applied to unit \(u\), as predetermined attributes of unit \(u\), waiting only to be uncovered by suitable experimentation. (It is implicit that the unit \(u\) and its properties and propensities exist independently of, and are unaffected by, any treatment that may be applied.) Note that because each unit label \(u\) is regarded as individual and unrepeatable, there is never any possibility of empirically testing this assumption of fatalism, which thus can be categorized as metaphysical.’

– Dawid, A. P. (2000, pp. 412-413) [Causal inference without counterfactuals. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 95, 407–424].