Generics

Edited by Miguel Hoeltje (University of Duisburg-Essen)
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  1. Dispositions and Modals: A Short History.Alex Anthony - manuscript
    http://alexanthony.org/dispositions%20and%20modality.pdf.
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  2. Generic Animalism.Andrew M. Bailey & Peter Van Elswyk - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy.
    The animalist says we are animals. This thesis is commonly understood as the universal generalization that all human persons are human animals. This article proposes an alternative: the thesis is a generic that admits of exceptions. We defend the resulting view, which we call generic animalism, and show its aptitude for diagnosing the limits of eight case-based objections to animalism.
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  3. More on Pejorative Language: Insults That Go Beyond Their Extension.Elena Castroviejo, Katherine Fraser & Agustín Vicente - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    Slurs have become a big topic of discussion both in philosophy and in linguistics. Slurs are usually characterised as pejorative terms, co-extensional with other, neutral, terms referring to ethnic or social groups. However, slurs are not the only ethnic/social words with pejorative senses. Our aim in this paper is to introduce a different kind of pejoratives, which we will call “ethnic/social terms used as insults” (ESTIs), as exemplified in (European) Spanish, though present in many other languages and mostly absent in (...)
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  4. Falsifying Generic Stereotypes.Olivier Lemeire - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies.
    Generic stereotypes are generically formulated generalizations that express a stereotype, like “Mexican immigrants are rapists” and “Muslims are terrorists.” Stereotypes like these are offensive and should not be asserted by anyone. Yet when someone does assert a sentence like this in a conversation, it is surprisingly difficult to successfully rebut it. The meaning of generic sentences is such that they can be true in several different ways. As a result, a speaker who is challenged after asserting a generic stereotype can (...)
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  5. Generics.Sarah-Jane Leslie - forthcoming - Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  6. 'Real Men': Polysemy or Implicature?Sarah-Jane Leslie - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
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  7. Carving Up the Social World with Generics.Sarah-Jane Leslie - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy.
  8. A General Theory of Bare “Singular” Kind Terms.Hiroki Nomoto - forthcoming - In Proceedings of the Poster Session of the 29th Annual West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 29).
    Dayal’s (2004) theory of kind terms accounts for the definiteness and number marking patterns in kind terms in many languages. Brazilian Portuguese has been claimed to be a counter-example to her theory as it seems to allow bare “singular” kind terms, which are predicted to be impossible according to her theory. However, the empirical status of the relevant data has not been clear so far. This paper presents a new data point from Singlish and confirms the existence of bare “singular” (...)
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  9. Proceedings of the Poster Session of the 29th Annual West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 29).Hiroki Nomoto - forthcoming - In Proceedings of the Poster Session of the 29th Anual West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (WCCFL 29). University of Arizona Linguistics Circle.
    Dayal's (2004) theory of kind terms accounts for the definiteness and number marking patterns in kind terms in many languages. Brazilian Portuguese has been claimed to be a counter-example to her theory as it seems to allow bare ``singular'' kind terms, which are predicted to be impossible according to her theory. However, the empirical status of the relevant data has not been clear so far. This paper presents a new data point from Singlish and confirms the existence of bare ``singular'' (...)
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  10. Generics, Race, and Social Perspectives.Patrick O’Donnell - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-38.
    The project of this paper is to deliver a semantics for a broad subset of bare plural generics about racial kinds, a class which I will dub 'Type C generics.' Examples include 'Blacks are criminal' and 'Muslims are terrorists.' Type C generics have two interesting features. First, they link racial kinds with ​ socially perspectival predicates ​ (SPPs). SPPs lead interpreters to treat the relationship between kinds and predicates in generic constructions as nomic or non-accidental. Moreover, in computing their content, (...)
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  11. A Dilemma About Kinds and Kind Terms.T. Parent - forthcoming - Synthese:1-20.
    'The kind Lion' denotes a kind. Yet many generics are thought to denote kinds also, like the subject-terms in 'The lion has a mane', 'Dinosaurs are extinct', and 'The potato was cultivated in Ireland by the end of the 17th century.' This view may be adequate for the linguist's overall purposes--however, if we limit our attention to the theory of reference, it seems unworkable. The problem is that what is often predicated of kinds is not what is predicated of the (...)
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  12. The Language of Causation.Eric Swanson - forthcoming - In Delia Graff Fara & Gillian Russell (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Routledge.
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  13. The Radical Account of Bare Plural Generics.Anthony Nguyen - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (5):1303-1331.
    Bare plural generic sentences pervade ordinary talk. And yet it is extremely controversial what semantics to assign to such sentences. In this paper, I achieve two tasks. First, I develop a novel classification of the various standard uses to which bare plurals may be put. This “variety data” is important—it gives rise to much of the difficulty in systematically theorizing about bare plurals. Second, I develop a novel account of bare plurals, the radical account. On this account, all bare plurals (...)
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  14. Might Generics.Brian Rabern - 2020 - Snippets 39:8-9.
    How do generics interact with modals? This note offers one observation about an interaction with 'might' that presents a challenge for standard theories.
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  15. A Bayesian Explanation of the Irrationality of Sexist and Racist Beliefs Involving Generic Content.Paul Silva - 2020 - Synthese 197 (6):2465-2487.
    Various sexist and racist beliefs ascribe certain negative qualities to people of a given sex or race. Epistemic allies are people who think that in normal circumstances rationality requires the rejection of such sexist and racist beliefs upon learning of many counter-instances, i.e. members of these groups who lack the target negative quality. Accordingly, epistemic allies think that those who give up their sexist or racist beliefs in such circumstances are rationally responding to their evidence, while those who do not (...)
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  16. Generic Generalizations in Science: A Bridge to Everyday Language.François Claveau & Jordan Girard - 2019 - Erkenntnis 84 (4):839-859.
    This article maintains that an important class of scientific generalizations should be reinterpreted: they have typically been understood as ceteris paribus laws, but are, in fact, generics. Four arguments are presented to support this thesis. One argument is that the interpretation in terms of ceteris paribus laws is a historical accident. The other three arguments draw on similarities between these generalizations and archetypal generics: they come with similar inferential commitments, they share a syntactic form, and the existing theories to make (...)
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  17. Should We Use Racial and Gender Generics?Katherine Ritchie - 2019 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 8 (1):33-41.
    Recently several philosophers have argued that racial, gender, and other social generic generalizations should be avoided given their propensity to promote essentialist thinking, obscure the social nature of categories, and contribute to oppression. Here I argue that a general prohibition against social generics goes too far. Given that the truth of many generics require regularities or systematic rather than mere accidental correlations, they are our best means for describing structural forms of violence and discrimination. Moreover, their accuracy, their persistence in (...)
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  18. Visual Experience: A Semantic Approach.Wylie Breckenridge - 2018 - Oxford University Press.
    I develop a theory of what we mean by the 'look' sentences that we use to describe our visual experiences, and on that basis develop a new adverbial theory of what it is to have a visual experience with a certain character.
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  19. Genericity Sans Gen.John Collins - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (1):34-64.
    Generics are exception-admitting generalisations, which find expression in apparently diverse linguistic forms. A standard claim is that there is a hidden linguistic unity to genericity in the form of a covert operator, Gen. This article surveys and rejects a range of considerations that purport to show Gen to be syntactically essential to the explanation of a range of linguistic phenomena connected to genericity. The conclusion reached is that genericity is not a specifically linguistic property insofar as it does not supervene (...)
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  20. Between Logic and the World, by Bernhard Nickel.David Liebesman - 2018 - Mind 127 (505):284-293.
    © Mind Association 2017In Between Logic and the World, Bernhard Nickel distinguishes two tasks in understanding generics. The first task is to give a compositional semantics—ideally, one that coheres with independent theories of semantic phenomena like plurality and conjunction. Between Logic and the World undoubtedly makes a substantial contribution to this task. Nickel argues that his proposed semantics allows us to understand logically complex generics as well as generics containing gradable terms. The second task is to give a theory of (...)
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  21. Generics, Conservativity, and Kind-Subordination.Bernhard Nickel - 2018 - Philosophers' Imprint 18.
    Many approaches to the semantics of generic sentences posit an unpronounced quantifier gen. However, while overt quantifiers are conservative, gen does not seem to be. A quantifier Q is conservative iff instances of the following schemas are equivalent: Q As are F and Q As are As that are F. All ravens are black is obviously equivalent to All ravens are ravens that are black, yet ravens are black is not equivalent to ravens are ravens that are black. This may (...)
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  22. Ways of Normality: Reply to Hoeltje.Bernhard Nickel - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (3):289-293.
    Hoeltje :101–118, 2017) raises a number of important issues about my theory of generics. In this brief reply, I address some of these challenges.
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  23. Generics and Weak Necessity.Ravi Thakral - 2018 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-28.
    A prevailing thought is that generics have a covert modal operator at logical form. I claim that if this is right, the covert generic modality is a weak necessity modal. In this paper, I pr...
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  24. Generics and Ways of Being Normal.Miguel Hoeltje - 2017 - Linguistics and Philosophy 40 (2):101-118.
    This paper is concerned with the semantics of bare plural I-generics such as ‘Tigers are striped’, ‘Chickens lay eggs’, and ‘Kangaroos live in Australia’. In a series of recent papers, Bernhard Nickel has developed a comprehensive view of a certain class of bare plural I-generics, which he calls characterizing sentences :629–648, 2009. doi:10.1007/s10988-008-9049-7; Linguist Philos 33:479–512, 2010a. doi:10.1007/s10988-011-9087-4; Philos Impr 10:1–25, 2010b). Nickel’s ambitious proposal includes a detailed account of their truth-conditions, an account of certain pragmatic phenomena that they give (...)
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  25. A New Look at the ‘Generic Overgeneralisation’ Effect.Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga, Linnaea Stockall & Napoleon Katsos - 2017 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy:1-27.
    While generic generalisations have been studied by linguists and philosophers for decades, they have only recently become the focus of concentrated interest by cognitive and developmental p...
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  26. The Original Sin of Cognition: Fear Prejudice, and Generalization.Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2017 - Journal of Philosophy 114 (8):393-421.
    Generic generalizations such as ‘mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus’ or ‘sharks attack bathers’ are often accepted by speakers despite the fact that very few members of the kinds in question have the predicated property. Previous work suggests that such low-prevalence generalizations may be accepted when the properties in question are dangerous, harmful, or appalling. This paper argues that the study of such generic generalizations sheds light on a particular class of prejudiced social beliefs, and points to new ways in (...)
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  27. Dispositions Without Teleology.David Manley & Ryan Wasserman - 2017 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 10.
    We argue against accounting for dispositions (and of the progressive aspect) in terms of a fundamentally teleological metaphysics, and we defend our previous conditional account from some novel objections. -/- In “Teleological Dispositions,” Nick Kroll offers a novel theory of dispositions in terms of primitive directed states. Kroll is clear that his notion of directedness “outstrips talk of goals, purposes, design, and function”, and that it commits him to “primitive teleological facts”. This notion may strike some as outdated and unscientific, (...)
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  28. The Meaning of Generics.Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2017 - Philosophy Compass 12 (8):e12431.
    This article discusses recent theories of the meaning of generics. The discussion is centred on how the theories differ in their approach to addressing the primary difficulty in providing a theory of generic meaning: The notoriously complex ways in which the truth conditions of generics seem to vary. In addition, the article summarizes considerations for and against each theory.
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  29. Differences in the Evaluation of Generic Statements About Human and Non‐Human Categories.Arber Tasimi, Susan Gelman, Andrei Cimpian & Joshua Knobe - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (7):1934-1957.
    Generic statements express generalizations about categories. Current theories suggest that people should be especially inclined to accept generics that involve threatening information. However, previous tests of this claim have focused on generics about non-human categories, which raises the question of whether this effect applies as readily to human categories. In Experiment 1, adults were more likely to accept generics involving a threatening property for artifacts, but this negativity bias did not also apply to human categories. Experiment 2 examined an alternative (...)
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  30. The Mark of the Plural: Generic Generalizations and Race.Daniel Wodak & Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2017 - In Paul C. Taylor, Linda Martín Alcoff & Luvell Anderson (eds.), The Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Race. Routledge. pp. 277-289.
    We argue that generic generalizations about racial groups are pernicious in what they communicate (both to members of that racial group and to members of other racial groups), and may be central to the construction of social categories like racial groups. We then consider how we should change and challenge uses of generic generalizations about racial groups.
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  31. Experience, Evaluation and Faultless Disagreement.Alex Anthony - 2016 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 59 (6):686-722.
    In the last decade there has been a torrent of work at the intersection of philosophy and linguistics on predicates of personal taste, subjective expressions like fun and tasty that are used to express opinions rather than matters of fact. In each section of this paper I discuss a phenomenon that has been largely overlooked in the literature on PPTs. In Section 1, I identify a neglected experiential reading of these adjectives. All other theories of expressions like fun take them (...)
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  32. Generics and Experimental Philosophy.Adam Lerner - 2016 - In Wesley Buckwalter & Justin Sytsma (eds.), A Companion to Experimental Philosophy. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 404-416.
  33. Generic Generalizations.Sarah-Jane Leslie & Adam Lerner - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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  34. Between Logic and the World: An Integrated Theory of Generics.Bernhard Nickel - 2016 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Bernhard Nickel presents a theory of generic sentences and the kind-directed modes of thought they express. The theory closely integrates compositional semantics with metaphysics to solve the problem that generics pose: what do generics mean? Generic sentences are extremely simple, yet if there are patterns to be discerned in terms of which are true and which are false, these patterns are subtle and complex. Ravens are black, and lions have manes: statistical measures cannot do justice to the facts, but what (...)
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  35. Generics, Covert Structure and Logical Form.Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2016 - Mind and Language 31 (5):503-529.
    The standard view amongst philosophers of language and linguists is that the logical form of generics is quantificational and contains a covert, unpronounced quantifier expression Gen. Recently, some theorists have begun to question the standard view and rekindle the competing proposal, that generics are a species of kind-predication. These theorists offer some forceful objections to the standard view, and new strategies for dealing with the abundance of linguistic evidence in favour of the standard view. I respond to these objections and (...)
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  36. Between Logic and the World: An Integrated Theory of Generics. [REVIEW]Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2016 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 16.
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  37. Children's Developing Intuitions About the Truth Conditions and Implications of Novel Generics Versus Quantified Statements.Amanda C. Brandone, Susan A. Gelman & Jenna Hedglen - 2015 - Cognitive Science 39 (4):711-738.
    Generic statements express generalizations about categories and present a unique semantic profile that is distinct from quantified statements. This paper reports two studies examining the development of children's intuitions about the semantics of generics and how they differ from statements quantified by all, most, and some. Results reveal that, like adults, preschoolers recognize that generics have flexible truth conditions and are capable of representing a wide range of prevalence levels; and interpret novel generics as having near-universal prevalence implications. Results further (...)
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  38. Genericity as a Unitary Psychological Phenomenon: An Argument From Linguistic Diversity.John Collins - 2015 - Ratio 28 (4):369-394.
    So-called ‘generics’ are members of a diverse class of constructions that express generalisations that do not directly involve any precise cardinality of individuals, but rather the kinds or ‘typical’ or ‘normal’ members of the kinds contributed by arguments of the predicate. The paper argues that genericity as a unitary phenomenon of human thought has a psychological, rather than linguistic, basis. This claim is argued for by way of a survey of the linguistic diversity of the forms of genericity, and the (...)
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  39. Two Types of Quantificational Modalized Genericity, and the Interpretation of Bare Plural and Indefinite Singular NPs.Yael Greenberg - 2015 - Semantics and Linguistic Theory:104.
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  40. Genericity is Easy? Formal and Experimental Perspectives.Dimitra Lazaridou-Chatzigoga, Napoleon Katsos & Linnaea Stockall - 2015 - Ratio 28 (4):470-494.
    In this paper, we compare the formal semantics approach to genericity, within which genericity is viewed as a species of quantification, and a growing body of experimental and developmental work on the topic, mainly by psychologists rather than linguists, proposing that genericity is categorically different from quantification. We argue that this generics-as-default hypothesis is much less well supported by evidence than its supporters contend, and that a research program combining theoretical and experimental research methods and considerations in the same studies (...)
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  41. “Hillary Clinton is the Only Man in the Obama Administration”: Dual Character Concepts, Generics, and Gender.Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (2):111-141.
  42. Generics Oversimplified.Sarah-Jane Leslie - 2015 - Noûs 49 (1):28-54.
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  43. Far From Obvious: The Semantics of Locative Indefinites.Sela Mador-Haim & Yoad Winter - 2015 - Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (5):437-476.
    Simple locative sentences show a variety of pseudo-quantificational interpretations. Some locatives give the impression of universal quantification over parts of objects, others involve existential quantification, and yet others cannot be characterized by either of these quantificational terms. This behavior is explained by virtually all semantic theories of locatives. What has not been previously observed is that similar quantificational variability is also exhibited by locative sentences containing indefinites with the ‘a’ article. This phenomenon is especially problematic for traditional existential treatments of (...)
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  44. Generics in Context.Rachel Sterken - 2015 - Philosophers' Imprint 15.
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  45. Leslie on Generics.Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (9):2493-2512.
    This paper offers three objections to Leslie’s recent and already influential theory of generics :375–403, 2007a, Philos Rev 117:1–47, 2008): her proposed metaphysical truth-conditions are subject to systematic counter-examples, the proposed disquotational semantics fails, and there is evidence that generics do not express cognitively primitive generalisations.
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  46. Generics, Content and Cognitive Bias.Rachel Katharine Sterken - 2015 - Analytic Philosophy 56 (1):75-93.
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  47. What a Loaded Generalization: Generics and Social Cognition.Daniel Wodak, Sarah-Jane Leslie & Marjorie Rhodes - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (9):625-635.
    This paper explores the role of generics in social cognition. First, we explore the nature and effects of the most common form of generics about social kinds. Second, we discuss the nature and effects of a less common but equally important form of generics about social kinds. Finally, we consider the implications of this discussion for how we ought to use language about the social world.
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  48. The Role of Kinds in the Semantics of Ceteris Paribus Laws.Bernhard Nickel - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1729-1744.
    This paper investigates the interaction between semantic theories for cp-laws (roughly, laws that hold “all things equal”) and metaphysical theories of kinds in the special sciences. Its central conclusion is that cp-laws concerning kinds behave differently from cp-laws concerning non-kinds: “ravens are black” which concerns the kind corvus corax, behaves differently from from “albino ravens are white” which concerns the non-kind grouping of albino ravens. I argue that this difference is in the first instance logical: the two sorts of cp-laws (...)
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  49. Chisholm's Paradox and Conditional Oughts.Catharine Saint Croix & Richmond Thomason - 2014 - Lecture Notes in Computer Science 8554:192-207.
    Since it was presented in 1963, Chisholm’s paradox has attracted constant attention in the deontic logic literature, but without the emergence of any definitive solution. We claim this is due to its having no single solution. The paradox actually presents many challenges to the formalization of deontic statements, including (1) context sensitivity of unconditional oughts, (2) formalizing conditional oughts, and (3) distinguishing generic from nongeneric oughts. Using the practical interpretation of ‘ought’ as a guideline, we propose a linguistically motivated logical (...)
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  50. Do Ceteris Paribus Laws Exist? A Regularity-Based Best System Analysis.Matthias Unterhuber - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1833-1847.
    This paper argues that ceteris paribus (cp) laws exist based on a Lewisian best system analysis of lawhood (BSA). Furthermore, it shows that a BSA faces a second trivialization problem besides the one identified by Lewis. The first point concerns an argument against cp laws by Earman and Roberts. The second point aims to help making some assumptions of the BSA explicit. To address the second trivialization problem, a restriction in terms of natural logical constants is proposed that allows one (...)
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