Ceteris Paribus Laws: A Naturalistic Account

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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 laws also cannot be said to be simply false due to the indefinitely many conditions not explicitly stated in their associated model: scientific CP clauses imply that these are, given the evidence, not nomically relevant.
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Archival date: 2014-04-14
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