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All Other Things Equal

Edited: September 18, 2020 (v0.0.6)

Ceteris paribus, a Latin phrase roughly meaning the following.

All other things being unchanged or constant…

It is used in economics to rule out the possibility of ‘other’ factors changing, i.e. the specific causal relation between two variables is focused. It’s applicable to any causal, empirical, or logical relation. I’ve found it especially useful when dealing with software architecture in the work place.

Decisions tend to be successful when they focus on one thing, hold other factors constant, and perform the change. It makes measuring impact of a change simple. Combined with Ockham’s razor, you have the start of a tool box for making decisions or changes, while maintaining your ability to be scientific about the impact of those changes!

If you’re unable to make a decision, it’s likely that you’re thinking about too much. I.e., you’re likely not able to make a single decision because two or more concepts are in play. You need to hold more things constant, and make a single decision at a time. Reduce your complex problem into simpler ones, and make decisions for the simpler problems.