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Erkenntnis

, Volume 80, Issue 4, pp 793–809 | Cite as

Normality and Majority: Towards a Statistical Understanding of Normality Statements

  • Corina StrößnerEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

Normality judgements are frequently used in everyday communication as well as in biological and social science. Moreover they became increasingly relevant to formal logic as part of defeasible reasoning. This paper distinguishes different kinds of normality statements. It is argued that normality laws like “Birds can normally fly” should be understood essentially in a statistical way. The argument has basically two parts: firstly, a statistical semantic core is mandatory for a descriptive reading of normality in order to explain the logical features of normality laws. Secondly, a statistical justification of normality statements can be derived by game theoretic considerations if the normality law is understood as communication convention.

Keywords

Normality statements Ceteris paribus Normic laws Commonsense reasoning 

Notes

Acknowledgments

The paper was written in the course of an Emmy Noether project on formal epistemology supported by the German Research Foundation. It partly builds on my PhD thesis that was written at the Saarland University and published in German as Strößner (2014). I am grateful to Joanna Kuchacz and Franz Huber for their comments. I also thank the anonymous referees.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Zukunftskolleg & FB PhilosophieUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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