PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Complexity and Generalization in the Special Sciences

It is widely recognized that exceptionless generalizations are much more difficult to come by in the special sciences, but the question why this should be the case is less often examined. The most promising approach to this question have attempted to ground this apparent difficulty in the complexity of the systems that a special science attempts to describe and explain. However, a clear understanding of how precisely complexity constrains possible explanations is still lacking. In this paper I draw on relatively recent developments in complexity theory in order to argue that exceptionless generalizations are unattainable in principle for an important class of systems.

Author Information:

Hugh Desmond    
KULeuven

 

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