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The Laws of BeliefRanking Theory and Its Philosophical Applications$
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Wolfgang Spohn

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199697502

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697502.001.0001

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 Ceteris Paribus Conditions and Dispositions

 Ceteris Paribus Conditions and Dispositions

Chapter:
(p.304) 13 Ceteris Paribus Conditions and Dispositions
Source:
The Laws of Belief
Author(s):

Wolfgang Spohn

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697502.003.0013

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

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