Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Manipulationism, Ceteris Paribus Laws, and the Bugbear of Background Knowledge

Buy Article:

$47.50 + tax (Refund Policy)

According to James Woodward’s manipulationism, to explain an event is to show how it could be changed by manipulating its cause. The relevant intervention must be a ‘serious possibility’, distinct from mere logical or physical possibility and approximating something I call ‘scientific possibility’. I argue that background knowledge is indispensable for judgements of scientific possibility and that ‘invariant’ generalisations, the primary vehicles of explanation in manipulationism, are not well adapted to encoding this often implicit knowledge, especially in the social sciences. A survey of key social scientific research methods (case and comparative studies, randomised control trials, ethnography, and structural equation modelling) shows that the output of these methods is generated by causal and non-causal background knowledge meshing in a way that is better encapsulated in an updated theory of Ceteris Paribus generalisations.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of the Witwatersrand,

Publication date: 03 July 2017

More about this publication?
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more