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Exclusions, Explanations, and Exceptions: On the Causal and Lawlike Status of the Competitive Exclusion Principle

Raerinne, Jani and Baedke, Jan (2015) Exclusions, Explanations, and Exceptions: On the Causal and Lawlike Status of the Competitive Exclusion Principle. Philosophy and Theory in Biology, 7. ISSN 1949-0739

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Abstract

The lawlike and explanatory status of ecologists’ Competitive Exclusion Principle (CEP) is a debated topic. It has been argued that the CEP is a ceteris paribus law, a non-lawlike regularity riddled with exceptions, a tautology, a causal regularity, and so on. We argue that the CEP is an empirically respectful and testable strict law that is not riddled with genuine exceptions. Moreover, we argue that the CEP is not a causal explanans in explanations, because it is a coexistence law, not a causal law. Rather than being an explanans, the CEP acts as a contrastive principle sharpening causal explanations. These results contrast with previous analyses of the CEP by Eliot (2011) and Weber (1999), which are also discussed. As a more general conclusion, we suggest that accounts of causal explanation in biology have neglected some of the roles that non-causal laws play in restricting, sharpening, and facilitating causal explanations.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Raerinne, Janijani.raerinne@helsinki.fi
Baedke, Janjan.baedke@rub.de
Keywords: ceteris paribus competition ecology exceptions laws causality
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Depositing User: Nora Boyd
Date Deposited: 11 May 2016 22:17
Last Modified: 11 May 2016 22:17
Item ID: 12088
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy and Theory in Biology
Publisher: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/ptb.6959004.0007.002
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.3998/ptb.6959004.0007.002
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Date: 28 June 2015
Volume: 7
ISSN: 1949-0739
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12088

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