, Volume 79, Supplement 10, pp 1715–1728 | Cite as

Ceteris Paribus Laws in Physics

  • Andreas HüttemannEmail author
Original Article


Earman and Roberts (in Synthese 118:439–478, 1999) claim that there is neither a persuasive account of the truth-conditions of ceteris paribus laws, nor of how such laws can be confirmed or disconfirmed. I will give an account of the truth conditions of ceteris paribus laws in physics in terms of dispositions. It will meet the objections standardly raised against such an account. Furthermore I will elucidate how ceteris paribus laws can be tested in physics. The essential point is that physics provides methodologies for dealing with disturbing factors. For this reason disturbing factors need not be listed explicitly in law-statements. In virtue of the methodologies it is possible to test how systems would behave if the disturbing factors were absent. I will argue that this suffices to establish the tenability of the dispositional account of ceteris paribus laws.


Categorical Property Compound System Dispositional Property Trigger Condition Ideal Crystal 
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I would like to thank three anonymous referees as well as John Roberts, the editors of this volume and the audience of the workshop on “Semantics and Pragmatics of Ceteris Paribus Conditions” in Düsseldorf for helpful comments. I would furthermore like to thank the DFG for sponsoring the research group “Causation, Dispositions, Laws and Explanations at the Interface of Philosophy of Science and Metaphysics”, which organized the workshop.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universität zu KölnCologneGermany

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