Ceteris Paribus and Ceteris Rectis Laws: Content and Causal Role
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This paper has three goals. The first goal is to work out the difference between literal ceteris paribus (cp) laws in the sense of “all others being equal” and ceteris rectis (cr) “laws” in the sense of “all others being right” (Sects. 2, 4). While cp laws involve a universal quantification, cr generalizations involve an existential quantification over the values of the remainder variables Z. As a result, the two differ crucially in their confirmability and lawlikeness. The second goal is to provide a classification of different kinds of cr generalizations (indefinite, definite and normic), including certain transition cases between cr generalizations and cp laws (Sect. 3). The third goal is to work out what cp laws and all kinds of cr assertions have in common: they figure as an information source for assertions of causal influence between variables (Sect. 5).
KeywordsDefinite Description Causal Influence Random Experiment Existential Quantifier Existential Quantification
For valuable discussion I am grateful to Nancy Cartwright, Alexander Gebharter, Andreas Hüttemann, Bernhard Nickel, Jeff Pelletier, Alexander Reutlinger, Jonah Schupbach, Wolfgang Spohn, Michael Strevens, Paul Thorn and Matthias Unterhuber.
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