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

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Arguing for Ceteris Paribus Laws by Means of Shift (of Mechanism) Provisos

Ceteris paribus laws are often described as approximate high level generalizations. Such a reconstruction of cp laws is prone to the following incompleteness challenge: These generalizations merely appear to have provisos, due to our lack of knowledge. Rather, a full formulation of these laws in terms of fundamental physics would render them strict. Based on three cases from biology and physics I argue that there exists a type of proviso used in the sciences which is not prone to that argument: provisos based on shift (of mechanism) normalcy. In contrast to provisos based on interference normalcy, shift normalcy-based provisos cannot be cashed out in terms of freedom of interference of a mechanism. They rather refer to a shift from one mechanism to another.

Author Information:

Matthias Unterhuber    


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