Jesse Steinberg
University of Wisconsin, Madison
In defending the scientific legitimacy of ceteris paribus qualified causal generalizations, we situate and specify the reference of the ceteris paribus proviso within a fundamental causal framework consisting of causal agents, pathways of influence, mediators, moderators, and causal consequences. In so doing, we provide an explication of the reference and utility of the ceteris paribus proviso in terms of mediators and moderators as these constitute the range of factors that can impinge on the relation between cause and effect. We argue that the conceptual causal roadmap embodied by the ceteris paribus qualification serves as a schematic template for the ongoing identification of causally relevant factors and plays an indispensable heuristic role in advancing scientific inquiry into causal relations. We then provide guidelines for differentiating between acceptable and unacceptable uses of ceteris paribus and describe how mediators and moderators conceptually encompassed by the ceteris paribus proviso can be employed in evaluating the meaning and acceptability of proposed ceteris paribus causal generalizations, as well serve as a guide to investigators in the process of designing studies to identify a causal agent, mediators, moderators, pathways of influence, and causal consequences. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Keywords ceteris paribus   causal explanation   causal generalizations   mediation   moderation
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DOI 10.1037/a0026389
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