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Ceteris Paribus Laws in Physics

Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1715-1728 (2014)

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  1. High-Level Exceptions Explained.Michael Strevens - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1819-1832.
    Why are causal generalizations in the higher-level sciences “inexact”? That is, why do they have apparent exceptions? This paper offers one explanation: many causal generalizations cite as their antecedent—the \(F\) in \(Fs\,\, {\textit{are}}\,\, G\) —a property that is not causally relevant to the consequent, but which is rather “entangled” with a causally relevant property. Entanglement is a relation that may exist for many reasons, and that allows of exceptions. Causal generalizations that specify entangled but causally irrelevant antecedents therefore tolerate exceptions.
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  • Ceteris Paribus Laws Need Machines to Generate Them.John Pemberton & Nancy Cartwright - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1745-1758.
    Most of the regularities that get represented as ‘laws’ in our sciences arise from, and are to be found regularly associated with, the successful operation of a nomological machine. Reference to the nomological machine must be included in the cp-clause of a cp-law if the entire cp-claim is to be true. We agree, for example, ‘ceteris paribus aspirins cure headaches’, but insist that they can only do so when swallowed by someone with the right physiological makeup and a headache. Besides (...)
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  • The Return of Causal Powers?Andreas Hüttemann - forthcoming - In Stathis Psillos, Henrik Lagerlund & Benjamin Hill (eds.), Causal Powers in Science: Blending Historical and Conceptual Perspectives. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Powers, capacities and dispositions (in what follows I will use these terms synonymously) have become prominent in recent debates in metaphysics, philosophy of science and other areas of philosophy. In this paper I will analyse in some detail a well-known argument from scientific practice to the existence of powers/capacities/dispositions. According to this argument the practice of extrapolating scientific knowledge from one kind of situation to a different kind of situation requires a specific interpretation of laws of nature, namely as attributing (...)
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  • 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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  • Understanding (With) Toy Models.Alexander Reutlinger, Dominik Hangleiter & Stephan Hartmann - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axx005.
    Toy models are highly idealized and extremely simple models. Although they are omnipresent across scientific disciplines, toy models are a surprisingly under-appreciated subject in the philosophy of science. The main philosophical puzzle regarding toy models is that it is an unsettled question what the epistemic goal of toy modeling is. One promising proposal for answering this question is the claim that the epistemic goal of toy models is to provide individual scientists with understanding. The aim of this paper is to (...)
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  • Understanding Toy Models.Alexander Reutlinger, Dominik Hangleiter & Stephan Hartmann - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):1069-1099.
    Toy models are highly idealized and extremely simple models. Although they are omnipresent across scientific disciplines, toy models are a surprisingly under-appreciated subject in the philosophy of science. The main philosophical puzzle regarding toy models concerns what the epistemic goal of toy modelling is. One promising proposal for answering this question is the claim that the epistemic goal of toy models is to provide individual scientists with understanding. The aim of this article is to precisely articulate and to defend this (...)
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  • Better Best Systems – Too Good To Be True.Marius Backmann & Alexander Reutlinger - 2014 - Dialectica 68 (3):375-390.
    Craig Callender, Jonathan Cohen and Markus Schrenk have recently argued for an amended version of the best system account of laws – the better best system account (BBSA). This account of lawhood is supposed to account for laws in the special sciences, among other desiderata. Unlike David Lewis's original best system account of laws, the BBSA does not rely on a privileged class of natural predicates, in terms of which the best system is formulated. According to the BBSA, a contingently (...)
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  • Modelling Inequality.Karim Thébault, Seamus Bradley & Alexander Reutlinger - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (3):691-718.
    Econophysics is a new and exciting cross-disciplinary research field that applies models and modelling techniques from statistical physics to economic systems. It is not, however, without its critics: prominent figures in more mainstream economic theory have criticized some elements of the methodology of econophysics. One of the main lines of criticism concerns the nature of the modelling assumptions and idealizations involved, and a particular target are ‘kinetic exchange’ approaches used to model the emergence of inequality within the distribution of individual (...)
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  • Do Statistical Laws Solve the 'Problem of Provisos'?Alexander Reutlinger - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1759-1773.
    In their influential paper “Ceteris Paribus, There is No Problem of Provisos”, Earman and Roberts (Synthese 118:439–478, 1999) propose to interpret the non-strict generalizations of the special sciences as statistical generalizations about correlations. I call this view the “statistical account”. Earman and Roberts claim that statistical generalizations are not qualified by “non-lazy” ceteris paribus conditions. The statistical account is an attractive view, since it looks exactly like what everybody wants: it is a simple and intelligible theory of special science laws (...)
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  • Laws Are Conditionals.Toby Friend - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (1):123-144.
    The ubiquitous schema ‘All Fs are Gs’ dominates much philosophical discussion on laws but rarely is it shown how actual laws mentioned and used in science are supposed to fit it. After consideration of a variety of laws, including those obviously conditional and those superficially not conditional, I argue that we have good reason to support the traditional interpretation of laws as conditionals of some quantified form with a single object variable. I show how this conclusion impacts on the status (...)
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  • The Role of Kinds in the Semantics of Ceteris Paribus Laws.Bernhard Nickel - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1729-1744.
    This paper investigates the interaction between semantic theories for cp-laws (roughly, laws that hold “all things equal”) and metaphysical theories of kinds in the special sciences. Its central conclusion is that cp-laws concerning kinds behave differently from cp-laws concerning non-kinds: “ravens are black” which concerns the kind corvus corax, behaves differently from from “albino ravens are white” which concerns the non-kind grouping of albino ravens. I argue that this difference is in the first instance logical: the two sorts of cp-laws (...)
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  • Thinking About Non-Universal Laws.Alexander Reutlinger & Matthias Unterhuber - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1703-1713.
    What are ceteris paribus laws? Which disciplines appeal to cp laws and which semantics, metaphysical underpinning, and epistemological dimensions do cp law statements have? Firstly, we give a short overview of the recent discussion on cp laws, which addresses these questions. Secondly, we suggest that given the rich and diverse literature on cp laws a broad conception of cp laws should be endorsed which takes into account the different ways in which laws can be non-universal . Finally, we provide an (...)
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  • CP-Law Statements as Vague, Self-Referential, Self-Locating, Statistical, and Perfectly in Order.John T. Roberts - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1775-1786.
    I propose understanding CP-law statements as statements that assert the existence of vague statistical laws, not by fully specifying the contents of those laws, but by picking them out via a description that is both self-referential and self-locating. I argue that this proposal validates many common assumptions about CP-laws and correctly classifies many examples of putative CP-laws. It does this while avoiding the most serious worries that motivate some philosophers to be skeptical of CP-laws, namely the worry that they lack (...)
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  • Do Ceteris Paribus Laws Exist? A Regularity-Based Best System Analysis.Matthias Unterhuber - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1833-1847.
    This paper argues that ceteris paribus (cp) laws exist based on a Lewisian best system analysis of lawhood (BSA). Furthermore, it shows that a BSA faces a second trivialization problem besides the one identified by Lewis. The first point concerns an argument against cp laws by Earman and Roberts. The second point aims to help making some assumptions of the BSA explicit. To address the second trivialization problem, a restriction in terms of natural logical constants is proposed that allows one (...)
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