Ceteris Paribus Conditions and Dispositions

Wolfgang Spohn

in The Laws of Belief

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199697502
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191739323 | DOI:
 Ceteris Paribus Conditions and Dispositions

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This account of laws is naturally extended to an account of ceteris paribus laws or conditions. In the main, “ceteris paribus” is here interpreted as “other things being normal”. A brief review displays how unsatisfactory current accounts of ceteris paribus conditions are. Relative to a ranking function, however, normal and exceptional conditions can be precisely explicated in a way that avoids the inadequacies of other accounts. In particular, this explication makes sense of double and higher degrees of exceptionality. Starting from the old observation that reduction sentences for dispositions hold only ceteris paribus, the chapter then proceeds to an analysis of dispositions. It is argued that those reduction sentences are defeasibly a priori and, if qualified by normal conditions, even unrevisably a priori; this is what we a priori know about dispositions. The chapter concludes with a comparative discussion of the metaphysical and epistemological aspects of dispositions, confirming the account given in this chapter.

Keywords: ceteris paribus conditions; normal conditions; disposition; reduction sentence; conditional analysis of dispositions; categorical base of a disposition

Chapter.  18482 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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