Psychological laws and nonmonotonic logic

Erkenntnis 44 (2):199-224 (1996)
  In this essay I enter into a recently published debate between Stephen Schiffer and Jerry Fodor concerning whether adequate sense can be made of the ceteris paribus conditions in special science laws, much of their focus being on the case of putative psychological laws. Schiffer argues that adequate sense cannot be made of ceteris paribus clauses, while Fodor attempts to overcome Schiffer's arguments, in defense of special science laws. More recently, Peter Mott has attempted to show that Fodor's response to Schiffer fails, and furthermore that further study shows that the logical framework in which Schiffer and Fodor address their issue is susceptible to inconsistency.In this essay I argue that adequate sense can be made of ceteris paribus conditions. Against Mott, I argue that recent work in the model theory of non-monotonic logic indicates how his problem involving logical inconsistencies can be overcome. Against Schiffer, I argue that the claims that he makes against ceteris paribus clauses would lead to a fatal skepticism concerning indefinitely many of the claims we make about the world (and indeed that his claims would be destructive of the view of the special sciences that Schiffer himself presents in his paper), and that the semantical considerations from non-monotonic logic that I present provide a suitable framework for dealing with his complaints. Thus I come out on the whole on Fodor's side of this debate, although for my own reasons, as I argue against much of Fodor's own argumentation
Keywords Laws  Logic  Model  Monotonic  Psychology  Fodor, J  Schiffer, S
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DOI 10.1007/BF00166501
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Wolfgang Spohn (2014). The Epistemic Account of Ceteris Paribus Conditions. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 4 (3):385-408.

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