Special Science Laws

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian J. Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
About this topic
Summary Early accounts of what a law of nature is were somewhat guided by a reductionist credo: say what it is to be a fundamental law of nature (as in fundamental physics); all the other laws (and scientific theories) follow from these basic laws anyway so that no special theory for what it is to be a law of chemistry or biology or... has to be given. In recent decades this attitude has changed and accounts of laws in the special sciences (and whether there are such) come into focus which are downright independent of reductionist attitudes. These laws have their own features and, thus, face their very own challenges: for example, they might be about entities that have a very limited space-time habitat (think of biology). Also, many special sciences regularities face exceptions: ravens are black, except for albino ravens. Thus, the topic of special science laws and the topic of ceteris paribus laws are closely related: see philpapers leaf section on cp laws. 
Key works The orthodox starting points for this subject are: Fodor 1974Lange 2000.
Introductions Tobin web
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161 found
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1 — 50 / 161
  1. added 2019-07-22
    Multiple Realizability and Biological Laws.Jani P. Raerinne & Markus I. Eronen - 2012 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 34 (4):521-537.
    We critically analyze Alexander Rosenberg’s argument based on the multiple realizability of biological properties that there are no biological laws. The argument is intuitive and suggestive. Nevertheless, a closer analysis reveals that the argument rests on dubious assumptions about the nature of natural selection, laws of nature, and multiple realizability. We also argue that the argument is limited in scope, since it applies to an outmoded account of laws and the applicability of the argument to other more promising accounts of (...)
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  2. added 2019-07-22
    The Matter of Life: Philosophical Problems of Biology. [REVIEW]M. E. - 1972 - Review of Metaphysics 26 (1):173-175.
    Given the tremendous burst of activity in the philosophy of science during the last quarter century, the number of books by trained philosophers dealing with the logic of biology is surprisingly small. Simon’s book resembles Morton Beckner’s The Biological Way of Thought in its comprehensive ambitions: "trying to discover what, if anything, is distinctive about biological science, its concepts, and its mode of explaining." The most obvious difference of the two books is Simon’s long central chapter on "Theories, Models, and (...)
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  3. added 2019-06-12
    The Aim and Structure of Ecological Theory.Marcel Weber - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (1):71-93.
    I present an attempt at an explication of the ecological theory of interspecific competition, including its explanatory role in community ecology and evolutionary biology. The account given is based on the idea that law-like statements play an important role in scientific theories of this kind. I suggest that the principle of competitive exclusion is such a law, and that it is evolutionarily invariant. The principle's empirical status is defended and implications for the ongoing debates on the existence of biological laws (...)
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  4. added 2019-06-06
    Social Laws in Alternating Time: Effectiveness, Feasibility, and Synthesis.Wiebe van Der Hoek, Mark Roberts & Michael Wooldridge - 2007 - Synthese 156 (1):1-19.
    Since it was first proposed by Moses, Shoham, and Tennenholtz, the social laws paradigm has proved to be one of the most compelling approaches to the offline coordination of multiagent systems. In this paper, we make four key contributions to the theory and practice of social laws in multiagent systems. First, we show that the "Alternating-time Temporal Logic" of Alur, Henzinger, and Kupferman provides an elegant and powerful framework within which to express and understand social laws for multiagent systems. Second, (...)
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  5. added 2019-06-06
    Natural Laws in Scientific Practice.John W. Carroll - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1):240-245.
  6. added 2019-06-06
    The Promise of Roberts' “Measurability Account of la Ws”.James Norris - 2004 - Southwest Philosophy Review 20 (2):117-128.
    There is a common argument form in the metaphysics of natural laws literature: a theory of natural law is attacked by offering a claim L as a law of scientific field F (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.), and from this law metaphysical implications contrary to the theory are drawn. Quite often however, L would not be regarded as a law by a scientist of F. Roberts' "measurability account of laws" offers a new and interesting way to more reliably identify the laws (...)
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  7. added 2019-06-06
    Philosophers Versus Chemists Concerning ‘Laws Of Nature’.Maureen Christie - 1994 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 25 (4):613-629.
  8. added 2019-06-06
    Robert Brown. "The Nature of Social Laws: Machiavelli to Mill". [REVIEW]Bruce A. Haddock - 1986 - New Vico Studies 4:183.
  9. added 2019-06-06
    Causal Laws in Psychology.B. A. Farrell, Margaret Braithwaite & C. A. Mace - 1949 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 23 (1):31-68.
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  10. added 2019-06-05
    El Problema Con Las Cláusulas Ceteris Paribus En Economía.Gustavo Marqués - 2004 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 8 (2):159-192.
    In social sciences, particularly in economics, ceteris paribus clauses give rise to special methodological problems, which make difficult both to regard its generalizations as genuine laws and to test such laws empirically. Daniel Hausman claims that the problem with ceteris paribus clauses in economics is that their content is not fully specified. This paper aims to discuss and cri-ticize Hausman’s reconstruction of an economic law and his ideas as to how they could be tested. Particularly, it will be argued that (...)
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  11. added 2019-01-15
    On the Testability of Psychological Generalizations.David K. Henderson - 1991 - Philosophy of Science 58 (4):586-606.
    Rosenberg argues that intentional generalizations in the human sciences cannot be law-like because they are not amenable to significant empirical refinement. This irrefinability is said to result from the principle that supposedly controls in intentional explanation also serving as the standard for successful interpretation. The only credible evidence bearing on such a principle would then need conform to it. I argue that psychological generalizations are refinable and can be nomic. I show how empirical refinement of psychological generalizations is possible by (...)
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  12. added 2019-01-14
    Humeanism, Best System Laws, and Emergence.Olivier Sartenaer - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (4):719-738.
    In the current article and contrary to a widespread assumption, I argue that Humeanism and ontological emergence can peacefully coexist. Such a coexistence can be established by reviving elements of John Stuart Mill’s philosophy of science, in which an idiosyncratic account of diachronic emergence is associated with extensions of the Humean mosaic and the correlative coming into being of new best system laws, which have the peculiarity of being temporally indexed. Incidentally, this reconciliation of Humeanism and emergence allows for conceiving (...)
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  13. added 2018-12-03
    Economics Without Laws. Towards a New Philosophy of Economics.Lukasz Hardt - 2017 - Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
    This book offers a vision of economics in which there is no place for universal laws of nature, and even for laws of a more probabilistic character. The author avoids interpreting the practice of economics as something that leads to the formulation of universal laws or laws of nature. Instead, chapters in the book follow the method of contemporary philosophy of science: rather than formulating suggestions for practicing scientists of how they should do research, the text describes and interprets the (...)
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  14. added 2018-12-03
    Formaliser le vivant : lois, théories, modèles.Franck Varenne - 2010 - Paris, France: Hermann.
    Peut-on formaliser le vivant ? Peut-on réduire une plante à une simple formule mathématique ? Goethe ne l’aurait pas admis. Pour beaucoup encore, cette question ne se pose même pas tant elle peut sembler provocante et contre-nature. Dans une perspective à la fois historique et épistémologique, ce livre rend compte de travaux contemporains qui ont pourtant tous tenté de braver cet interdit. C’est en grande partie sur ce terrain, hautement problématique, que, dans les premières décennies du XXe siècle, on voit (...)
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  15. added 2018-05-29
    What’s the Point of Ceteris Paribus? Or, How to Understand Supply and Demand Curves.Jennifer S. Jhun - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (2):271-292.
    Philosophers sometimes claim that economics, and the idealizing strategies it employs, is ultimately unable to provide genuine laws of nature. Therefore, unlike physics, it does not qualify as an actual science. Careful consideration of thermodynamics, a well-developed physical theory, reveals substantial parallels with economic methodology. The corrective account of scientific understanding I offer appreciates these parallels: understanding in terms of efficient performance.
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  16. added 2018-02-18
    Who's Afraid of Ceteris-Paribus Laws? Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Them.Marc Lange - 2002 - Erkenntnis 57 (3):407-423.
    Ceteris-paribus clauses are nothing to worry about; a ceteris-paribus qualifier is not poisonously indeterminate in meaning. Ceteris-paribus laws teach us that a law need not be associated straightforwardly with a regularity in the manner demanded by regularity analyses of law and analyses of laws as relations among universals. This lesson enables us to understand the sense in which the laws of nature would have been no different under various counterfactual suppositions -- a feature even of those laws that involve no (...)
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  17. added 2018-02-16
    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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  18. added 2017-11-02
    Laws in Biology and the Unity of Nature.Angela Breitenbach - 2017 - In Michela Massimi & Angela Breitenbach (eds.), Kant and the Laws of Nature. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 237-255.
    Kant's views on the laws of nature in the physical and life sciences.
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  19. added 2017-10-16
    Naturgesetze in der Ökonomik?Christoph Lütge - 2000 - Philosophia Naturalis 37 (2):385-393.
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  20. added 2017-10-16
    Theory in Psychology: A Reply to Tryon's "Measurement Units and Theory Construction".Altan Löker - 1999 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 20 (3):277-294.
    Tryon advises psychologists to construct theories as physicists do, and claims that a theory of physics is a system of algebraic relations which constitute the definitions of new concepts and their units of measurement in terms of existing ones, at least two basic units being initially adopted. He says that these algebraic relations create a knowledge hierarchy, which he considers a theory. In reality, only some of the mathematical relations of physics are definitions, which introduce new tools, while the rest (...)
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  21. added 2017-09-07
    The Emergence of Better Best System Laws.Markus Schrenk - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (3):469-483.
    The better best system account, short BBSA, is a variation on Lewis’s theory of laws. The difference to the latter is that the BBSA suggests that best system analyses can be executed for any fixed set of properties. This affords the possibility to launch system analyses separately for the set of biological properties yielding the set of biological laws, chemical properties yielding chemical laws, and so on for the other special sciences. As such, the BBSA remains silent about possible interrelations (...)
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  22. added 2017-08-30
    Microeconomic Laws: A Philosophical Analysis.Alexander Rosenberg - 1976 - University of Pittsburgh Press.
    Rosenberg applies current thinking in philosophy of science to neoclassical economics in order to assess its claims to scientific standing. Although philosophers have used history and psychology as paradigms for the examination of social science, there is good reason to believe that economics is a more appropriate subject for analysis: it is the most systematized and quantified of the social sciences; its practitioners have reached a measure of consensus on important aspects of their subject; and it encompasses a large number (...)
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  23. added 2017-08-30
    In Search of the Laws of Action.Donald Allan Coleman - 1965 - Dissertation, Columbia University
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  24. added 2017-07-28
    Las Leyes Ceteris Paribus y la Inexactitud de la Economía.Amparo Gomez Rodriguez - 2001 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 20 (3).
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  25. added 2017-07-28
    Confirmation, Complexity and Social Laws.Harold Kincaid - 1988 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1988:299-307.
    I defend the prospect of good science in the social sciences by looking at the obstacles to social laws. I criticize traditional approaches, which rule for or against social laws on primarily conceptual grounds, and argue that only a close analysis of actual empirical research can decide the issue. To that end, I focus on problems caused by the ceteris paribus nature of social generalizations, outline a variety of ways those problems might be handled, and then examine in detail the (...)
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  26. added 2017-07-28
    On the Relation of Physical Laws to the Processes of Organisms.L. L. Whyte - 1956 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 7 (28):347-350.
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  27. added 2017-05-26
    Mechanisms and Laws: Clarifying the Debate.Marie I. Kaiser & C. F. Craver - 2013 - In H.-K. Chao, S.-T. Chen & R. Millstein (eds.), Mechanism and Causality in Biology and Economics. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 125-145.
    Leuridan (2011) questions whether mechanisms can really replace laws at the heart of our thinking about science. In doing so, he enters a long-standing discussion about the relationship between the mech-anistic structures evident in the theories of contemporary biology and the laws of nature privileged especially in traditional empiricist traditions of the philosophy of science (see e.g. Wimsatt 1974; Bechtel and Abrahamsen 2005; Bogen 2005; Darden 2006; Glennan 1996; MDC 2000; Schaffner 1993; Tabery 2003; Weber 2005). In our view, Leuridan (...)
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  28. added 2017-04-28
    Explanations of Exceptions in Biology: Corrective Asymmetry Versus Autonomy.Jani Raerinne - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):5073-5092.
    It is often argued that biological generalizations have a distinctive and special status by comparison with the generalizations of other natural sciences, such as that biological generalizations are riddled with exceptions defying systematic and simple treatment. This special status of biology is used as a premise in arguments that posit a deprived explanatory, nomological, or methodological status in the biological sciences. I will discuss the traditional and still almost universally held idea that the biological sciences cannot deal with exceptions and (...)
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  29. added 2017-04-28
    Why Do Spatiotemporally Restricted Regularities Explain in the Social Sciences?A. Rosenberg - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):1-26.
    Employing a well-known local regularity from macroeconomics, the Phillips curve, I examine Woodward’s ([2000], [2003]) account of the explanatory power of such historically restricted generalizations and the mathematical models with which they are sometimes associated. The article seeks to show that, pace Woodward, to be explanatory such generalizations need to be underwritten by more fundamental ones, and that rational choice theory would not avail in this case to provide the required underwriting. Examining how such explanatory restricted regularities are underwritten in (...)
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  30. added 2017-04-28
    Laws and Development.David Resnik - 1997 - Synthese 112 (1):37-51.
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  31. added 2017-04-28
    Rosenberg, Rules and Regularities.Allen Stairs - 1979 - Dialogue 18 (3):418-420.
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  32. added 2017-04-28
    The Nomological Character of Microeconomics.Alexander Rosenberg - 1975 - Theory and Decision 6 (1):1-26.
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  33. added 2017-04-28
    Historical Cross Section Laws and Austin's Scepticism in "Other Minds".Don Sievert - 1970 - Philosophy of Science 37 (1):146-152.
  34. added 2017-04-28
    Principles and Laws of Sociology.J. Rumney - 1937 - The Eugenics Review 29 (1):61.
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  35. added 2017-03-29
    A Note on Fundamental Theory and Idealizations in Economics and Physics.Hans Lind - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (3):493-503.
    Modern economics, with its use of advanced mathematical methods, is often looked upon as the physics of the social sciences. It is here argued that deductive analyses are more important in economics than in physics, because the economists more seldom can confirm phenomenological laws directly. The economist has to use assumptions from fundamental theory when trying to bridge the gap between observations and phenomenological laws. Partly as a result of the difficulties of establishing phenomenological laws, analyses of idealized 'model-economies' play (...)
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  36. added 2017-03-29
    Historical Laws.Nicholas Lobkowicz - 1971 - Studies in Soviet Thought 11 (4):235-249.
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  37. added 2017-03-29
    Principles and Laws of Sociology.H. A. Phelps - 1937 - Philosophy 12 (47):361-362.
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  38. added 2017-02-28
    Diaphysics.Troy Earl Camplin - 2009 - Upa.
    Diaphysics explains a theory that there are physical laws running through the different levels of reality, and which cause new levels of complexity to emerge. Interdisciplinary in scope, this book shows how diaphysical laws created the world as we know it and the deep universality that in their expression.
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  39. added 2017-02-28
    BROWN, R.: "The Nature of Social Laws. Machiavelli to Mill". [REVIEW]John A. Hall - 1986 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 37:126.
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  40. added 2017-02-28
    Logic, Laws, and Life. [REVIEW]Jack K. Horner - 1980 - Auslegung 7 (2):205-222.
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  41. added 2017-02-14
    On the Knowledge of the Laws of Social-Development.Ge Glezerman - 1980 - Filosoficky Casopis 28 (6):835-857.
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  42. added 2017-02-13
    2 Special Sciences.Jerry A. Fodor - 1995 - In Paul K. Moser & J. D. Trout (eds.), Contemporary Materialism: A Reader. Routledge. pp. 51.
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  43. added 2017-02-13
    New Fields, New Laws.William Tiller - 1977 - In John W. White & Stanley Krippner (eds.), Future Science. Doubleday/Anchor.
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  44. added 2017-02-01
    Social Laws in Alternating Time: Effectiveness, Feasibility, and Synthesis.Wiebe van der Hoek, Mark Roberts & Michael Wooldridge - 2007 - Synthese 156 (1):1-19.
    Since it was first proposed by Moses, Shoham, and Tennenholtz, the social laws paradigm has proved to be one of the most compelling approaches to the offline coordination of multiagent systems. In this paper, we make four key contributions to the theory and practice of social laws in multiagent systems. First, we show that the Alternating-time Temporal Logic (atl) of Alur, Henzinger, and Kupferman provides an elegant and powerful framework within which to express and understand social laws for multiagent systems. (...)
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  45. added 2017-02-01
    Complexity and Social Scientific Laws.Lee C. McIntyre - 1993 - Synthese 97 (2):209 - 227.
    This essay defends the role of law-like explanation in the social sciences by showing that the "argument from complexity" fails to demonstrate a difference in kind between the subject matter of natural and social science. There are problems internal to the argument itself - stemming from reliance on an overly idealized view of natural scientific practice - and reason to think that, based upon an analogy with a more sophisticated understanding of natural science, which makes use of "redescriptions" in the (...)
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  46. added 2017-01-23
    Are Social Mechanisms the Antonym of Laws?Amparo Gómez Rodríguez - 2015 - Epistemologia 38 (1):31-46.
    The thesis that in social sciences causal explanations are possible only in terms o mechanisms due to the lack of genuine laws has been increasingly popular among social scientist and philosophers. In this article it is examined whether the explanation by mechanism is necessarily an explanation without laws or, on the contrary, it can involve some kind o laws. To this end it is argued, firstly, that mechanisms are not always the antonym of law insofar as they express propensities and (...)
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  47. added 2017-01-23
    Marc Lange: Natural Laws in Scientific Practice.Daniel Heard - 2003 - Annals of the Japan Association for Philosophy of Science 12 (1):53-59.
  48. added 2017-01-23
    The Nature of Social Laws: Machiavelli to Mill.Robert Brown - 1986 - Cambridge University Press.
    This volume is a study of the development of the idea that human social behaviour is governed by laws comparable to the laws of natural science. The author sets out to provide a clear account of the arguments put forward from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries about the nature and possibility of social laws. Although analytical rather than historical in approach, the discussions are always informed by a knowledge of the relevant context and sufficient detail is provided to characterise (...)
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  49. added 2017-01-23
    Deskriptions- Und Interpretationsprobleme Beim Psychologischen Erklären.Hans-Georg Bosshardt - 1984 - Analyse & Kritik 6 (2):160-189.
    In this paper, the descriptive information contained in empirical laws is contrasted with common-sense descriptions of situations and behavior. According to the Hempel-Oppenheim-Schema, explanation is, essentially conceived as a matter of deductive reasoning in which the fact to be explained is subsumed under one empirically valid generalizations or laws. However, this kind of explanation is necessarily based on intuitive processes of diagnosis and interpretation. It is argued that these intuitive processes enable the scientist to formulate descriptive sentences which form the (...)
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  50. added 2017-01-23
    How Momental Laws Can Be Developed in Sociology by Deducing Testable and Predictive “Actance” Models From Transacts.Stuart C. Dodd - 1962 - Synthese 14 (4):277-299.
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