Ceteris Paribus Laws

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian J. Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
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  1. Principled Mechanistic Explanations in Biology: A Case Study of Alzheimer's Disease.Sepehr Ehsani - manuscript
    Following an analysis of the state of investigations and clinical outcomes in the Alzheimer's research field, I argue that the widely-accepted 'amyloid cascade' mechanistic explanation of Alzheimer's disease appears to be fundamentally incomplete. In this context, I propose that a framework termed 'principled mechanism' (PM) can help with remedying this problem. First, using a series of five 'tests', PM systematically compares different components of a given mechanistic explanation against a paradigmatic set of criteria, and hints at various ways of making (...)
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  2. Justification, Normalcy and Evidential Probability.Martin Smith - manuscript
    NOTE: This paper is a reworking of some aspects of an earlier paper – ‘What else justification could be’ and also an early draft of chapter 2 of Between Probability and Certainty. I'm leaving it online as it has a couple of citations and there is some material here which didn't make it into the book (and which I may yet try to develop elsewhere). My concern in this paper is with a certain, pervasive picture of epistemic justification. On this (...)
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  3. Levelling Counterfactual Scepticism.Alexander Sandgren & Katie Steele - 2020 - Synthese 1:1-21.
    In this paper, we develop a novel response to counterfactual scepticism, the thesis that most ordinary counterfactual claims are false. In the process we aim to shed light on the relationship between debates in the philosophy of science and debates concerning the semantics and pragmatics of counterfactuals. We argue that science is concerned with many domains of inquiry, each with its own characteristic entities and regularities; moreover, statements of scientific law often include an implicit ceteris paribus clause that restricts the (...)
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  4. Is It Time for a Nietzschean Genealogy of Laws of Nature?: Walter Ott, Lydia Patton : Laws of Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, X+264pp, $65 HB. [REVIEW]Jason Winning - 2019 - Metascience 28 (2):269-271.
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  5. Manipulationism, Ceteris Paribus Laws, and the Bugbear of Background Knowledge.Robert Kowalenko - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (3):261-283.
    According to manipulationist accounts of causal explanation, to explain an event is to show how it could be changed by intervening on its cause. The relevant change must be a ‘serious possibility’ claims Woodward 2003, distinct from mere logical or physical possibility—approximating something I call ‘scientific possibility’. This idea creates significant difficulties: background knowledge is necessary for judgments of possibili-ty. Yet the primary vehicles of explanation in manipulationism are ‘invariant’ generali-sations, and these are not well adapted to encoding such knowledge, (...)
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  6. Humeanism and Exceptions in the Fundamental Laws of Physics.Billy Wheeler - 2017 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 21 (3):317-337.
    It has been argued that the fundamental laws of physics do not face a ‘problem of provisos’ equivalent to that found in other scientific disciplines (Earman, Roberts and Smith 2002) and there is only the appearance of exceptions to physical laws if they are confused with differential equations of evolution type (Smith 2002). In this paper I argue that even if this is true, fundamental laws in physics still pose a major challenge to standard Humean approaches to lawhood, as they (...)
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  7. Ceteris Paribus Laws and Minutis Rectis Laws.Luke Fenton-Glynn - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 93 (2):274-305.
    Special science generalizations admit of exceptions. Among the class of non-exceptionless special science generalizations, I distinguish minutis rectis generalizations from the more familiar category of ceteris paribus generalizations. I argue that the challenges involved in showing that mr generalizations can play the law role are underappreciated, and quite different from those involved in showing that cp generalizations can do so. I outline a strategy for meeting the challenges posed by mr generalizations.
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  8. Ley verdadera, explicación y descripción en un argumento de Nancy Cartwright.Sergio Aramburu - 2015 - In Filosofía e historia de la ciencia en el cono sur. Córdoba: pp. 25-32.
    Este trabajo consiste en un análisis de la tesis expuesta en el artículo de 1980 “Do the laws of physics state the facts?” de Nancy Cartwright, según la cual las leyes fundamentales de la física no “describen los hechos” porque, respecto de ellas, verdad y explicatividad se excluyen mutuamente. El texto fue luego republicado como tercer ensayo de su libro How the Laws of Physics Lie (1981), del que Mauricio Suárez afirma que el “trade-off” entre verdad y explicación es su (...)
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  9. Ceteris Paribus Laws in Physics.Andreas Hüttemann - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1715-1728.
    Earman and Roberts claim that there is neither a persuasive account of the truth-conditions of ceteris paribus laws, nor of how such laws can be confirmed or disconfirmed. I will give an account of the truth conditions of ceteris paribus laws in physics in terms of dispositions. It will meet the objections standardly raised against such an account. Furthermore I will elucidate how ceteris paribus laws can be tested in physics. The essential point is that physics provides methodologies for dealing (...)
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  10. Ceteris Paribus Laws: A Naturalistic Account.Robert Kowalenko - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (2):133-155.
    An otherwise lawlike generalisation hedged by a ceteris paribus (CP) clause qualifies as a law of nature, if the CP clause can be substituted with a set of conditions derived from the multivariate regression model used to interpret the empirical data in support of the gen- eralisation. Three studies in human biology that use regression analysis are surveyed, showing that standard objections to cashing out CP clauses in this way—based on alleged vagueness, vacuity, or lack of testability—do not apply. CP (...)
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  11. Better Best Systems and the Issue of CP-Laws.Markus Schrenk - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1787-1799.
    This paper combines two ideas: (1) That the Lewisian best system analysis of lawhood (BSA) can cope with laws that have exceptions (cf. Braddon-Mitchell in Noûs 35(2):260–277, 2001; Schrenk in The metaphysics of ceteris paribus laws. Ontos, Frankfurt, 2007). (2) That a BSA can be executed not only on the mosaic of perfectly natural properties but also on any set of special science properties (cf., inter alia, Schrenk 2007, Selected papers contributed to the sections of GAP.6, 6th international congress of (...)
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  12. Two Concepts of Law of Nature.Brendan Shea - 2013 - Prolegomena 12 (2):413-442.
    I argue that there are at least two concepts of law of nature worthy of philosophical interest: strong law and weak law. Strong laws are the laws investigated by fundamental physics, while weak laws feature prominently in the “special sciences” and in a variety of non-scientific contexts. In the first section, I clarify my methodology, which has to do with arguing about concepts. In the next section, I offer a detailed description of strong laws, which I claim satisfy four criteria: (...)
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  13. Ceteris-paribus-Gesetze in der Physik.Andreas Hüttemann - 2012 - In Michael Esfeld (ed.), Philosophie der Physik.
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  14. Can Dispositional Essences Ground the Laws of Nature?Richard Corry - 2011 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 89 (2):263 - 275.
    A dispositional property is a tendency, or potency, to manifest some characteristic behaviour in some appropriate context. The mainstream view in the twentieth century was that such properties are to be explained in terms of more fundamental non-dispositional properties, together with the laws of nature. In the last few decades, however, a rival view has become popular, according to which some properties are essentially dispositional in nature, and the laws of nature are to be explained in terms of these fundamental (...)
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  15. The Epistemology of Hedged Laws.Robert Kowalenko - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (3):445-452.
    Standard objections to the notion of a hedged, or ceteris paribus, law of nature usually boil down to the claim that such laws would be either 1) irredeemably vague, 2) untestable, 3) vacuous, 4) false, or a combination thereof. Using epidemiological studies in nutrition science as an example, I show that this is not true of the hedged law-like generalizations derived from data models used to interpret large and varied sets of empirical observations. Although it may be ‘in principle impossible’ (...)
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  16. Interfering with Nomological Necessity.Markus Schrenk - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (244):577-597.
    Since causal processes can be prevented and interfered with, law-governed causation is a challenge for necessitarian theories of laws of nature. To show that there is a problematic friction between necessity and interference, I focus on David Armstrong's theory; with one proviso, his lawmaker, nomological necessity, is supposed to be instantiated as the causation of the law's second relatum whenever its first relatum is instantiated. His proviso is supposed to handle interference cases, but fails to do so. In order to (...)
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  17. The Powerlessness of Necessity.Markus Schrenk - 2010 - Noûs 44 (4):725-739.
    This paper concerns anti-Humean intuitions about connections in nature. It argues for the existence of a de re link that is not necessity.Some anti-Humeans tacitly assume that metaphysical necessity can be used for all sorts of anti-Humean desires. Metaphysical necessity is thought to stick together whatever would be loose and separate in a Hume world, as if it were a kind of universal superglue.I argue that this is not feasible. Metaphysical necessity might connect synchronically co-existent properties—kinds and their essential features, (...)
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  18. What Else Justification Could Be1.Martin Smith - 2010 - Noûs 44 (1):10-31.
    According to a captivating picture, epistemic justification is essentially a matter of epistemic or evidential likelihood. While certain problems for this view are well known, it is motivated by a very natural thought—if justification can fall short of epistemic certainty, then what else could it possibly be? In this paper I shall develop an alternative way of thinking about epistemic justification. On this conception, the difference between justification and likelihood turns out to be akin to the more widely recognised difference (...)
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  19. How (Not) to Think About Idealisation and Ceteris Paribus -Laws.Robert Kowalenko - 2009 - Synthese 167 (1):183-201.
    "Semantic dispositionalism" is the theory that a speaker's meaning something by a given linguistic symbol is determined by her dispositions to use the symbol in a certain way. According to an objection by Kripke, further elaborated in Kusch :156–163, 2005), semantic dispositionalism involves ceteris paribus-clauses and idealisations, such as unbounded memory, that deviate from standard scientific methodology. I argue that Kusch misrepresents both ceteris paribus-laws and idealisation, neither of which factually "approximate" the behaviour of agents or the course of events, (...)
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  20. Initial Conditions as Exogenous Factors in Spatial Explanation.Clint Ballinger - 2008 - Dissertation, University of Cambridge
    This dissertation shows how initial conditions play a special role in the explanation of contingent and irregular outcomes, including, in the form of geographic context, the special case of uneven development in the social sciences. The dissertation develops a general theory of this role, recognizes its empirical limitations in the social sciences, and considers how it might be applied to the question of uneven development. The primary purpose of the dissertation is to identify and correct theoretical problems in the study (...)
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  21. Ceteris Paribus Laws, Component Forces, and the Nature of Special-Science Properties.Robert D. Rupert - 2008 - Noûs 42 (3):349-380.
    Laws of nature seem to take two forms. Fundamental physics discovers laws that hold without exception, ‘strict laws’, as they are sometimes called; even if some laws of fundamental physics are irreducibly probabilistic, the probabilistic relation is thought not to waver. In the nonfundamental, or special, sciences, matters differ. Laws of such sciences as psychology and economics hold only ceteris paribus – that is, when other things are equal. Sometimes events accord with these ceteris paribus laws (c.p. laws, hereafter), but (...)
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  22. Can Capacities Rescue Us From Ceteris Paribus Laws?Markus Schrenk - 2007 - In B. Gnassounou & M. Kistler (eds.), Dispositions in Philosophy and Science. Ashgate.
    Many philosophers of science think that most laws of nature (even those of fundamental physics) are so called ceteris paribus laws, i.e., roughly speaking, laws with exceptions. Yet, the ceteris paribus clause of these laws is problematic. Amongst the more infamous difficulties is the danger that 'For all x: Fx ⊃ Gx, ceteris paribus' may state no more than a tautology: 'For all x: Fx ⊃ Gx, unless not'. One of the major attempts to avoid this problem (and others concerning (...)
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  23. Ceteris Paribus Conditionals and Comparative Normalcy.Martin Smith - 2007 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 36 (1):97-121.
    Our understanding of subjunctive conditionals has been greatly enhanced through the use of possible world semantics and, more precisely, by the idea that they involve variably strict quantification over possible worlds. I propose to extend this treatment to ceteris paribus conditionals – that is, conditionals that incorporate a ceteris paribus or ‘other things being equal’ clause. Although such conditionals are commonly invoked in scientific theorising, they traditionally arouse suspicion and apprehensiveness amongst philosophers. By treating ceteris paribus conditionals as a species (...)
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  24. A Theory for Special Science Laws.Markus Schrenk - 2006 - In H. Bohse & S. Walter (eds.), Selected Papers Contributed to the Sections of Gap.6. Mentis.
    This paper explores whether it is possible to reformulate or re-interpret Lewis’s theory of fundamental laws of nature—his “best system analysis”—in such a way that it becomes a useful theory for special science laws. One major step in this enterprise is to make plausible how law candidates within best system competitions can tolerate exceptions—this is crucial because we expect special science laws to be so called “ceteris paribus laws ”. I attempt to show how this is possible and also how (...)
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  25. How the Ceteris Paribus Laws of Physics Lie.Geert Keil - 2005 - In Jan Faye, Paul Needham, Uwe Scheffler & Max Urchs (eds.), Nature's Principles. Springer. pp. 167-200.
    After a brief survey of the literature on ceteris paribus clauses and ceteris paribus laws (1), the problem of exceptions, which creates the need for cp laws, is discussed (2). It emerges that the so-called skeptical view of laws of nature does not apply to laws of any kind whatever. Only some laws of physics are plagued with exceptions, not THE laws (3). Cp clauses promise a remedy, which has to be located among the further reactions to the skeptical view (...)
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  26. Real Ceteris Paribus Laws.Markus Schrenk - 2003 - In R. Bluhm & C. Nimtz (eds.), Proceedings of GAP.5, Bielefeld 2003. mentis.
    Although there is an ongoing controversy in philosophy of science about so called ceteris paribus laws that is, roughly, about laws with exceptionsóa fundamental question about those laws has been neglected (ß2). This is due to the fact that this question becomes apparent only if two different readings of ceteris paribus clauses in laws have been separated. The first reading of ceteris paribus clauses, which I will call the epistemic reading, covers applications of laws: predictions, for example, might go wrong (...)
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  27. Naturgesetze in der Biologie?Bertold Schweitzer - 2000 - Philosophia Naturalis 37 (2):367-374.
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