The law‐idealization

Philosophy of Science 71 (5):730-741 (2004)
There are few, perhaps no known, exact, true, general laws. Some of the work of generalization is carried by ceteris paribus generalizations. I suggest that many models continue such work in more complex form, with the idea of ceteris paribus conditions thought of as extended to more general conditions of application. I use the term regularity guide to refer collectively to cp‐generalizations and such regularity‐purveying models. Laws in the traditional sense can then be thought of as idealizations, which idealize away from the conditions of application of regularity guides. If we keep clearly in mind the status of laws as such idealizations, problems surrounding traditional topics—such as lawlikeness, corresponding counterfactuals and modality—no longer look to be intractable.
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DOI 10.1086/421414
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