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Robert Kowalenko
University of Witwatersrand
  1. 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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  2. 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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  3. 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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    Scientific Styles, Plain Truth, and Truthfulness.Robert Kowalenko - 2018 - South African Journal of Philosophy 37 (3):361-378.
    Ian Hacking defines a “style of scientific thinking” loosely as a “way to find things out about the world” characterised by five hallmark features of a number of scientific template styles. Most prominently, these are autonomy and “self-authentication”: a scientific style of thinking, according to Hacking, is not good because it helps us find out the truth in some domain, it itself defines the criteria for truth-telling in its domain. I argue that Renaissance medicine, Mediaeval “demonology”, and magical thinking pass (...)
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  5. 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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  6. Thabo Mbeki, Postmodernism, and the Consequences.Robert Kowalenko - 2015 - South African Journal of Philosophy 34 (4):441-461.
    Explanations of former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s public and private views on the aetiology of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the country remain partial at best without the recognition that the latter presuppose and imply a postmodernist/postcolonialist philosophy of science that erases the line separating the political from the scientific. Evidence from Mbeki’s public speeches, interviews, and private and anonymous writings suggests that it was postmodernist/postcolonialist theory that inspired him to doubt the “Western” scientific consensus on HIV/AIDS and to implement (...)
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  7. Reply to Israel on the New Riddle of Induction.Robert Kowalenko - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (3):549-552.
    Israel 2004 claims that numerous philosophers have misinterpreted Goodman’s original ‘New Riddle of Induction’, and weakened it in the process, because they do not define ‘grue’ as referring to past observations. Both claims are false: Goodman clearly took the riddle to concern the maximally general problem of “projecting” any type of characteristic from a given realm of objects into another, and since this problem subsumes Israel’s, Goodman formulated a stronger philosophical challenge than the latter surmises.
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  8. Nkandla and Affirmative Action.Robert Kowalenko - 2015 - Business Day:13.
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