Ceteris Paribus Laws: Generics and Natural KindsSkip other details (including permanent urls, DOI, citation information)
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Ceteris Paribus (cp-)laws may be said to hold only “other things equal,” signaling that their truth is compatible with a range of exceptions. This paper provides a new semantic account for some of the sentences used to state cp-laws. Its core approach is to relate these laws to natural language on the one hand — by arguing that cp-laws are most naturally expressed with generics — and to natural kinds on the other — by arguing that the semantics of generics in the context of the special sciences are best spelled out by appeal to natural kinds. The paper then goes on to draw on these semantics in order to illuminate several problems raised by cp-laws, some familiar, some new.