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Can Capacities rescue us from cp Laws

Schrenk, Markus (2007) Can Capacities rescue us from cp Laws. [Published Article or Volume]

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Abstract

Many philosophers of science think that most laws of nature (even those of fundamental physics) are so called ceteris paribus laws, i.e., roughly speaking, laws with exceptions. Yet, the ceteris paribus clause of these laws is problematic. Amongst the more infamous difficulties is the danger that 'For all x: Fx ⊃ Gx, ceteris paribus' may state no more than a tautology: 'For all x: Fx ⊃ Gx, unless not'.
One of the major attempts to avoid this problem (and others concerning ceteris paribus laws) is to claim that the subject matter of laws are ascriptions of dispositions, powers, capacities etc., and not the regular behaviour we find in nature. That we do not know whether the cetera are paria in a specific situation does not matter to the dispositionalist because the objects have the disposition regardless of the circumstances. The defence of the latter claim is that dispositions can be instantiated without being manifested. Hence, the laws that ascribe dispositions are strict and it looks as if they do not face the above mentioned problems of ceteris paribus laws.
In this essay I attempt to show that these assumptions are wrong. I hope to illustrate that not only does the ceteris paribus clause reoccur inside the dispositions, moreover, there are laws—laws about non-fundamental entities with instable dispositions—which bear a ceteris paribus clause that cannot be hidden in a disposition.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Schrenk, Markusmarkus.schrenk@ccc.oxon.org
Keywords: Dispositions, ceteris paribus, laws
Subjects: General Issues > Causation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Depositing User: Prof. Markus Schrenk
Date Deposited: 31 Dec 2011 16:26
Last Modified: 31 Dec 2011 16:26
Item ID: 8979
Journal or Publication Title: Dispositions in Philosophy and Science.
Publisher: Ashgate
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/8979

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