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Laws, Ceteris Paribus Conditions, and the Dynamics of Belief

Wolfgang Spohn
Erkenntnis (1975-)
Vol. 57, No. 3, Ceteris Paribus Laws (2002), pp. 373-394
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20013163
Page Count: 22
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Laws, Ceteris Paribus Conditions, and the Dynamics of Belief
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Abstract

The characteristic difference between laws and accidental generalizations lies in our epistemic or inductive attitude towards them. This idea has taken various forms and dominated the discussion about lawlikeness in the last decades. Likewise, the issue about ceteris paribus conditions is essentially about how we epistemically deal with exceptions. Hence, ranking theory with its resources of defeasible reasoning seems ideally suited to explicate these points in a formal way. This is what the paper attempts to do. Thus it will turn out that a law is simply the deterministic analogue of a sequence of independent, identically distributed random variables. This entails that de Finetti's representation theorems can be directly transformed into an account of confirmation of laws thus conceived.

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