"Ceteris Paribus", There Is No Problem of Provisos

Synthese 118 (3):439 - 478 (1999)
Much of the literature on "ceteris paribus" laws is based on a misguided egalitarianism about the sciences. For example, it is commonly held that the special sciences are riddled with ceteris paribus laws; from this many commentators conclude that if the special sciences are not to be accorded a second class status, it must be ceteris paribus all the way down to fundamental physics. We argue that the (purported) laws of fundamental physics are not hedged by ceteris paribus clauses and provisos. Furthermore, we show that not only is there no persuasive analysis of the truth conditions for ceteris paribus laws, there is not even an acceptable account of how they are to be saved from triviality or how they are to be melded with standard scientific methodology. Our way out of this unsatisfactory situation to reject the widespread notion that the achievements and the scientific status of the special sciences must be understood in terms of ceteris paribus laws
Keywords Methodology
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