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Workshop: Semantics and Pragmatics of Ceteris Paribus Conditions (June 28-29, 2012)

Semantics and Pragmatics of Ceteris Paribus Conditions

Many philosophers of science agree that a range of laws discussed in the special sciences (biology, sociology, etc.) must be qualified by appeal to ceteris paribus (CP) conditions. While it has been often appreciated that ceteris paribus laws (CP laws) are needed, their exact nature, semantics and pragmatics remains controversial. Diverse semantics for CP laws, such as dispositional, stability-based (CP laws are counterfactually stable or stable under interventions), and normality-based approaches (e.g. 'most agents act in a way that maximizes utility' and 'agents normally act in a way that maximizes utility') have, thus, been proposed.

In this workshop we shall bring together ideas from the present discussion on CP laws on the one hand and approaches in formal models/semantics of conditionals, generics and possibly causal networks on the other hand, and discuss what an adequate (formal) semantics/pragmatics of ceteris paribus laws would look like. Two questions that naturally arise in that context are the following: In what ways does the resulting semantics relate to existing approaches to conditional logic and non-monotonic logic? Can the resulting semantics/pragmatics model all types of ceteris paribus laws equally well, such as normic ceteris paribus laws (e.g., 'agents normally act in a way that maximizes utility') and comparative ceteris paribus laws (e.g., 'ceteris paribus an increase of demand of a commodity leads to an increase of price')?

The Speakers include Nancy Cartwright, Alice Drewery, Andreas Hüttemann, Berhard Nickel, Francis Pelletier, Alexander Reutlinger, Markus Schrenk, Gerhard Schurz, Wolfgang Spohn, Michael Strevens, Matthias Unterhuber, and Brad Weslake. 

Date: June 28-29, 2012

Meeting Room 3, Level 1, Building 16.11 (Rektorat/Zentrale Verwaltung), University of Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf.

The workshop is organized as a part of the DFG (German Research Foundation) research group FOR 1063 Causation, Laws, Dispositions and Explanations at the Interface of Science and Metaphysics.


June 28, 2012
10.00-10.05 Welcome
10.05-11.05Gerhard Schurz (Duesseldorf) Ceteris Paribus and Ceteris Rectis Laws: the Problems of Content and Accidentality
11.15-12.15Bernhard Nickel (Harvard) The Role of Kinds in CP-Laws
13.30-14.30Jeff Pelletier (Alberta, SFU Vancouver) Reasoning with Defaults: Generic Statements and Ceteris Paribus Restrictions
14.40-15.40Wolfgang Spohn (Konstanz) A Ranking-Theoretic Account of Ceteris Paribus Conditions 
16.00-17.00Matthias Unterhuber (Duesseldorf) Less Lazy than We Might Think - Ceteris Paribus Conditions in the Context of Lewis' Best System Analysis
17.10-18.10Nancy Cartwright (LSE London) When Causal Laws are Fit for Use
June 29, 2012
10.00-11.00Andreas Hüttemann (Cologne) Ceteris Paribus Laws in Physics
11.10-12.10Alice Drewery (Reading) Ceteris Paribus Clauses and the Division of Linguistic Labour
13.30-14.30Brad Weslake (Rochester) Statistical Mechanical Imperialism
14.40-15.40 Alexander Reutlinger (Cologne) Against Statistical Accounts of Special Science Laws
16.00-17.00 Markus Schrenk (Cologne) Better Best Systems and the Issue of Ceteris Paribus Laws
17.10-18.10Michael Strevens (NYU) Ceteris Paribus Hedges: Causal Voodoo That Works

Guests are welcome!

We ask persons interested in attending the workshop to register by email, by contacting Matthias Unterhuber at . We also recommmend to book rooms early for the workshop, since during the time of the workshop there will be a second large conference.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact Matthias Unterhuber by email to .