The Role of Kinds in the Semantics of Ceteris Paribus Laws

Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1729-1744 (2014)
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Abstract

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 give rise to different inferential patterns. I draw two further conclusions. The difference in logical behavior poses a severe problem for extant semantic theories of cp-laws, and: we cannot elucidate the distinction between kinds and non-kinds by suggesting that only kinds can appear in laws

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Bernhard Nickel
Harvard University

Citations of this work

Generic Animalism.Andrew M. Bailey & Peter van Elswyk - 2021 - Journal of Philosophy 118 (8):405-429.
Generic Generalizations.Sarah-Jane Leslie & Adam Lerner - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
High-Level Exceptions Explained.Michael Strevens - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1819-1832.

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Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1965 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Explaining the brain: mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2007 - New York : Oxford University Press,: Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
New work for a theory of universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
The origin of concepts.Susan Carey - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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