Ceteris-paribus Laws and Causality

Project leaders:
Prof. Dr. Andreas Hüttemann (Cologne)
& Prof. Dr. Gerhard Schurz (Düsseldorf)

Postdoctoral fellow:
Dr. Christian Löw (Cologne)

In philosophy of science, laws are usually believed to stand in a tight conceptual relation to many important key concepts such as causation, explanation, confirmation, determinism, counterfactuals etc. Traditionally, philosophers of science have focused on physical laws, which were taken to be at least true, universal statements that support counterfactual claims. Yet, although this claim about laws might be true w.r.t. physics, laws in the special sciences (such as biology, psychology, economics etc.) appear to have – maybe not surprisingly – different features than the laws of physics. Special science laws are usually taken to “have exceptions”, to be “local”, to be “non-universal” or “to be ceteris paribus laws”.

This project deals with following issues concerning laws in the special sciences:

  • How do the laws of physics differ from the laws of the special sciences?
  • What are the truth-conditions of laws in the special sciences?
  • How can laws in the special sciences be tested?
  • What is an adequate metaphysical account of special science laws?
  • What role do these laws play in the causal claims of special sciences?