In Good and Bad examples of probabilistic generics, I suggested that (1) is an example of a probabilistic generic. (1) Women have care-giving jobs. If that were right, then the thesis in the title would However, there is also a very general argument that there are no probabilistic generics with stative verbs, like having a … Continue reading There are no probabilistic Generics with stative verbs

# The Intuition underlying Normality in the Probabilistic Case

Suppose I construct normality in the context of probabilistic generics along the lines outlined here: (Normality in Probabilistic Generics). That's a purely formal construction, suggesting some kind of division among cells in a partition that reflects combinations of other causal factors potentially at play. What's the distinction that the purely formal distinction is supposed to … Continue reading The Intuition underlying Normality in the Probabilistic Case

# Normality in Probabilistic Generics, Revisited

(This supersedes what I wrote on the topic before) Thinking through how normality fits into probabilistic generics shows that there are a lot of different ways of mixing normality and probabilistic explanation. It's important to get this right when thinking about the logic of these generics (here). At lease at first blush, it might seem … Continue reading Normality in Probabilistic Generics, Revisited

# Two kinds of Contingency in Generics

Consider the generic (1). Ravens are black. Many writers on generics find it plausible that when one is confronted with a raven that does not conform to (1)—a raven that isn't black—there is a felt need, or at least an available opportunity, to explain that non-conformer away. Such an explaining away would vindicate (1) in … Continue reading Two kinds of Contingency in Generics

# Normality for Probabilistic Generics (Superseded)

(Edit: I've come to realize that what I wrote here is confused. Here's a better attempt at understanding what's going on.) Thinking through how normality fits into probabilistic generics shows that there are a lot of different ways of mixing normality and probabilistic explanation. It's important to get this right when thinking about the logic … Continue reading Normality for Probabilistic Generics (Superseded)

# Probabilistic Explanation

Strevens in a useful overview article ("Probabilistic Explanation") mentions three reasons to think about probabilistic explanation. The phenomena might be fundamentally indeterministic (as in QM) We might be epistemically limited, as in medical contexts where we don't know about the specific mechanisms. The probabilistic explanation might be superior to the mechanistic one, as in statistical … Continue reading Probabilistic Explanation

# Against Mechanisms: Heterogeneity

One objection associating kinds too closely with mechanisms is that mechanisms are more heterogeneous than they need to be in order for them to play the right role in the theory of kinds. Slater makes this objection in "Natural Kindness" page 387, but doesn't give specific examples. The question is presumably whether it's possible to … Continue reading Against Mechanisms: Heterogeneity