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Ceteris paribus lost

Earman, J and Roberts, J and Smith, S (2002) Ceteris paribus lost. Erkenntnis, 57 (3). 281 - 301. ISSN 0165-0106

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Many have claimed that ceteris paribus (CP) laws are a quite legitimate feature of scientific theories, some even going so far as to claim that laws of all scientific theories currently on offer are merely CP. We argue here that one of the common props of such a thesis, that there are numerous examples of CP laws in physics, is false. Moreover, besides the absence of genuine examples from physics, we suggest that otherwise unproblematic claims are rendered untestable by the mere addition of the CP operator. Thus, "CP all Fs are Gs", when read as a straightforward statement of fact, cannot be the stuff of scientific theory. Rather, we suggest that when "ceteris paribus" appears in scientific works it plays a pragmatic role of pointing to more respectable claims. © 2002 Kluwer Academic Publishers.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Roberts, J
Smith, S
Centers: University Centers > Center for Philosophy of Science
Date: 1 January 2002
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: Erkenntnis
Volume: 57
Number: 3
Page Range: 281 - 301
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1023/a:1021526110200
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0165-0106
Date Deposited: 24 Jul 2012 18:52
Last Modified: 28 Jan 2022 19:00


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