Laws as Relations between Universals

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian J. Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
About this topic
Summary The idea that laws of nature do not connect just any kind of properties -- for example the property of being an object that the pope possesses or the property of looking red to a bull -- is old. Laws of nature, so the intuition, say something about the regular co-occurrence of real properties and not just any made up classes of things. One way to put this is to say that laws hold between universals, another to say that they hold between perfectly natural properties.
Key works David Armstrong has written key works on both universals and laws of nature and also their relation: Armstrong 1982Armstrong 1978Armstrong 1983.
Introductions M. Armstrong 2010
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  1. What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 2016 - Cambridge University Press.
    First published in 1985, D. M. Armstrong's original work on what laws of nature are has continued to be influential in the areas of metaphysics and philosophy of science. Presenting a definitive attack on the sceptical Humean view, that laws are no more than a regularity of coincidence between stances of properties, Armstrong establishes his own theory and defends it concisely and systematically against objections. Presented in a fresh twenty-first-century series livery, and including a specially commissioned preface written by Marc (...)
  2. Going Through the Open Door Again: Counterfactual Versus Singularist Theories of Causation.D. M. Armstrong - 2001 - In Gerhard Preyer (ed.), Reality and Humean Supervenience: Essays on the Philosophy of David Lewis. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 163--176.
  3. Comment on Smart.D. M. Armstrong - 1999 - In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 171--172.
  4. Singular Causation and Laws of Nature.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - In John Earman & John Norton (eds.), The Cosmos of Science. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 498--511.
  5. Comments on Lierse.D. M. Armstrong - 1996 - In P. Riggs (ed.), Natural Kinds, Laws of Nature and Scientific Methodology. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 227--228.
  6. What Is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1986 - Crítica: Revista Hispanoamericana de Filosofía 18 (52):129-131.
  7. What Is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1985 - Philosophy 60 (234):557-558.
  8. What Is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1985 - Ethics 95 (4):949-951.
  9. What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1985 - Mind 94 (373):164-166.
  10. What Is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1985 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 36 (1):79-81.
  11. What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
    This is a study of a crucial and controversial topic in metaphysics and the philosophy of science: the status of the laws of nature. D. M. Armstrong works out clearly and in comprehensive detail a largely original view that laws are relations between properties or universals. The theory is continuous with the views on universals and more generally with the scientific realism that Professor Armstrong has advanced in earlier publications. He begins here by mounting an attack on the orthodox and (...)
  12. Laws of Nature as Relations Between Universals and as Universals.D. M. Armstrong - 1982 - Philosophical Topics 13 (1):7-24.
  13. What is a Law of Nature?David Armstrong - 1987 - Philosophical Review 96 (3):435-441.
  14. Reply to Ellis.David M. Armstrong - 1999 - In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 43--48.
  15. The Open Door: Counterfactual Versus Singularist Theories of Causation.David M. Armstrong - 1999 - In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 175--185.
  16. Ontology, Causality and Mind: Essays in Honour of D M Armstrong.John Bacon, Keith Campbell & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.) - 1993 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
    D. M. Armstrong is an eminent Australian philosopher whose work over many years has dealt with such subjects as: the nature of possibility, concepts of the particular and the general, causes and laws of nature, and the nature of human consciousness. This collection of essays explores the many facets of Armstrong's work, concentrating on his more recent interests. There are four sections to the book: possibility and identity, universals, laws and causality, and philosophy of mind. The contributors comprise an international (...)
  17. What is a Law of Nature?: The Broken-Symmetry Story.Yuri Balashov - 2002 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (4):459-473.
  18. The Ultimate Argument Against Armstrong's Contingent Necessitation View of Laws.A. Bird - 2005 - Analysis 65 (2):147-155.
  19. Lange and Laws, Kinds, and Counterfactuals.Alexander Bird - 2011 - In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints. MIT Press.
    In this paper I examine and question Marc Lange’s account of laws, and his claim that the law delineating the range of natural kinds of fundamental particle has a lesser grade of necessity that the laws connecting the fundamental properties of those kinds with their derived properties.
  20. The Ultimate Argument Against Armstrong's Contingent Necessitation View of Laws.Alexander Bird - 2005 - Analysis 65 (2):147-55.
    I show that Armstrong’s view of laws as second-order contingent relations of ‘necessitation’ among categorical properties faces a dilemma. The necessitation relation confers a relation of extensional inclusion (‘constant conjunction’) on its relata. It does so either necessarily or contingently. If necessarily, it is not a categorical relation (in the relevant sense). If contingently, then an explanation is required of how it confers extensional inclusion. That explanation will need to appeal to a third-order relation between necessitation and extensional inclusion. The (...)
  21. Nomic Universals and Particular Causal Relations: Which Are Basic and Which Are Derived?John Bolender - 2006 - Philosophia 34 (4):405-410.
    Armstrong holds that a law of nature is a certain sort of structural universal which, in turn, fixes causal relations between particular states of affairs. His claim that these nomic structural universals explain causal relations commits him to saying that such universals are irreducible, not supervenient upon the particular causal relations they fix. However, Armstrong also wants to avoid Plato’s view that a universal can exist without being instantiated, a view which he regards as incompatible with naturalism. This construal of (...)
  22. Ontology, Causality and Mind. [REVIEW]David Brooks - 1996 - Philosophical Quarterly 46 (185):518.
    D. M. Armstrong is an eminent Australian philosopher whose work over many years has dealt with such subjects as: the nature of possibility, concepts of the particular and the general, causes and laws of nature, and the nature of human consciousness. This collection of essays explores the many facets of Armstrong's work, concentrating on his more recent interests. There are four sections to the book: possibility and identity, universals, laws and causality, and philosophy of mind. The contributors comprise an international (...)
  23. Armstrong, D. M., "What is a Law of Nature"? [REVIEW]J. Butterfield - 1985 - Mind 94:164.
  24. Ontology and the Laws of Nature.John W. Carroll - 1987 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 65 (3):261 – 276.
    An argument for realism (i.E., The ontological thesis that there exist universals) has emerged in the writings of david armstrong, Fred dretske, And michael tooley. These authors have persuasively argued against traditional reductive accounts of laws and nature. The failure of traditional reductive accounts leads all three authors to opt for a non-Traditional reductive account of laws which requires the existence of universals. In other words, These authors have opted for accounts of laws which (together with the fact that there (...)
  25. Is the Humean Defeated by Induction? A Reply to Smart.Eduardo Castro - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (2):435-446.
    This paper is a reply to Benjamin Smart’s : 319–332, 2013) recent objections to David Armstrong’s solution to the problem of induction : 503–511, 1991). To solve the problem of induction, Armstrong contends that laws of nature are the best explanation of our observed regularities, where laws of nature are dyadic relations of necessitation holding between first-order universals. Smart raises three objections against Armstrong’s pattern of inference. First, regularities can explain our observed regularities; that is, universally quantified conditionals are required (...)
  26. On Induction: Time-Limited Necessity Vs. Timeless Necessity.Eduardo Castro - 2013 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 33 (3):67-82.
    Abstract: This paper defends David Armstrong’s solution to the problem of inductionb against Helen Beebee’s attack on that solution. To solve theproblem of induction, Armstrong contends that the timeless necessity explanation is the best explanation of our observed regularities, whereas Beebee attempts to demonstrate that the time-limited necessity explanation is an equally good explanation. Allegedly, this explanation blocks Armstrong’s solution. I demonstrate that even if the time-limited ecessity explanation were an equally good explanation of our observed regularities, this explanation does (...)
  27. As leis da natureza e os casos de Tooley.Rodrigo Cid - 2013 - Manuscrito 36 (1):67-101.
    The purposes of this paper are: (1) to present four theories of the nature of natural laws, (2) to show that only one of them is capable of adequately answering to Tooley's Cases, and (3) indicate why these cases are relevant for our ontology. These purposes are important since the concept of "natural law" is used in many (if not all) realms of natural science and in many branches of philosophy; if Tooley's cases are possible, they represent situations that must (...)
  28. Report: David Malet Armstrong’s Neo‐Aristotelianism.Annabella D'Atri - unknown
    The aim of this paper is to establish criteria for designating the Systematic Metaphysics of Australian philosopher David Malet Armstrong as neo‐ Aristotelian and to distinguish this form of weak neo‐ Aristotelianism from other forms, specifically from John Lowe’s strong neo‐Aristotelianism. In order to compare the two forms, I will focus on the Aristotelian category of substance, and on the dissimilar attitudes of Armstrong and Lowe with regard to this category. Finally, I will test the impact of the two different (...)
  29. Laws and Coincidences Contrasted.Chris Daly - 1994 - Analysis 54 (2):98 - 104.
  30. Comments on Lierse.Armstrong David - 1996 - In P. Riggs (ed.), Natural Kinds, Laws of Nature and Scientific Methodology. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 227.
  31. RMSTRONG, D. M.: "What is a Law of Nature"? [REVIEW]Fred I. Dretske - 1985 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 36:79.
  32. Laws of Nature.Fred I. Dretske - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (2):248-268.
    It is a traditional empiricist doctrine that natural laws are universal truths. In order to overcome the obvious difficulties with this equation most empiricists qualify it by proposing to equate laws with universal truths that play a certain role, or have a certain function, within the larger scientific enterprise. This view is examined in detail and rejected; it fails to account for a variety of features that laws are acknowledged to have. An alternative view is advanced in which laws are (...)
  33. "Real Kinds" and "General Laws".Margaret Drummond - 1912 - Mind 21 (81):150-152.
  34. Response to David Armstrong.Brian Ellis - 1999 - In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 39--43.
  35. Are Causal Laws Contingent?Evan Fales - 1993 - In John Bacon, Keith Campbell & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.), Ontology, Causality and Mind: Essays in Honour of D.M. Armstrong. Cambridge University Press.
    It has been nearly a decade and a half since Fred Dretske, David Armstrong and Michael Tooley, having each rejected the Regularity theory, independently proposed that natural laws are grounded in a second-order relation that somehow binds together universals.' (l shall call this the ‘DTA theory’). In this way they sought to overcome the major - and notorious — shortcomings of every version of the Regularity theory: how to provide truth conditions for laws that lack instances; how to distinguish laws (...)
  36. Causation and Universals.Evan Fales - 1990 - Routledge.
    The world contains objective causal relations and universals, both of which are intimately connected. If these claims are true, they must have far-reaching consequences, breathing new life into the theory of empirical knowledge and reinforcing epistemological realism. Without causes and universals, Professor Fales argues, realism is defeated, and idealism or scepticism wins. Fales begins with a detailed analysis of David Hume's argument that we have no direct experience of necessary connections between events, concluding that Hume was mistaken on this fundamental (...)
  37. Laws of Nature as Relations Between Quantities?John Forge - 1999 - In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 111--124.
  38. David Armstrong on Functional Laws.John Forge - 1986 - Philosophy of Science 53 (4):584-587.
  39. What is a Law of Nature?: D.M. Armstrong , 180 Pp. [REVIEW]Steven Goldman - 1987 - History of European Ideas 8 (1):97-97.
  40. What is a Law of Nature? (D. M. Armstrong). [REVIEW]Steven Louis Goldman - 1987 - History of European Ideas 8 (1):97-97.
  41. Armstrong and the Modal Inversion of Dispositions.Toby Handfield - 2005 - Philosophical Quarterly 55 (220):452–461.
    D. M. Armstrong has objected that the Dispositionalist theory of laws and properties is modally inverted, for it entails that properties are constituted by relations to non-actual possibilia. I contend that, if this objection succeeds against Dispositionalism, then Armstrong's nomic necessitation relation is also modally inverted. This shows that at least one of Armstrong's reasons for preferring a nomic necessitation theory is specious.
  42. Causes and Laws.Adrian Heathcote & D. M. Armstrong - 1991 - Noûs 25 (1):63-73.
  43. Tooley's Theory of Laws of Nature.Stephen C. Hetherington - 1983 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 13 (1):101-114.
  44. Natural Properties, Necessary Connections, and the Problem of Induction.Tyler Hildebrand - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:668-689.
    The necessitarian solution to the problem of induction involves two claims: first, that necessary connections are justified by an inference to the best explanation; second, that the best theory of necessary connections entails the timeless uniformity of nature. In this paper, I defend the second claim. My arguments are based on considerations from the metaphysics of laws, properties, and fundamentality.
  45. Can Primitive Laws Explain?Tyler Hildebrand - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13:1-15.
    One reason to posit governing laws is to explain the uniformity of nature. Explanatory power can be purchased by accepting new primitives, and scientists invoke laws in their explanations without providing any supporting metaphysics. For these reasons, one might suspect that we can treat laws as wholly unanalyzable primitives. (John Carroll’s *Laws of Nature* (1994) and Tim Maudlin’s *The Metaphysics Within Physics* (2007) offer recent defenses of primitivism about laws.) Whatever defects primitive laws might have, explanatory weakness should not be (...)
  46. Tooley's Account of the Necessary Connection Between Law and Regularity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (1):33-43.
    Fred Dretske, Michael Tooley, and David Armstrong accept a theory of governing laws of nature according to which laws are atomic states of affairs that necessitate corresponding natural regularities. Some philosophers object to the Dretske/Tooley/Armstrong theory on the grounds that there is no illuminating account of the necessary connection between governing law and natural regularity. In response, Michael Tooley has provided a reductive account of this necessary connection in his book Causation (1987). In this essay, I discuss an improved version (...)
  47. Natural Necessity and Laws of Nature.Herbert Hochberg - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (3):386-399.
    The paper considers recent proposals by Armstrong, Dretske, and Tooley that revive the view that statements of laws of nature are grounded by the existence of higher order facts relating universals. Several objections to such a view are raised and an alternative analysis, recognizing general facts, is considered. Such an alternative is shown to meet a number of the objections raised against the appeal to higher order facts and it is also related to views of Hume and Wittgenstein. Further objections (...)
  48. Armstrong's Account of Probabilistic Laws.Gürol Irzik - 1991 - Analysis 51 (4):214 - 217.
  49. Armstrong on Probabilistic Laws of Nature.Jonathan D. Jacobs & Robert J. Hartman - 2017 - Philosophical Papers 46 (3):373-387.
    D. M. Armstrong famously claims that deterministic laws of nature are contingent relations between universals and that his account can also be straightforwardly extended to irreducibly probabilistic laws of nature. For the most part, philosophers have neglected to scrutinize Armstrong’s account of probabilistic laws. This is surprising precisely because his own claims about probabilistic laws make it unclear just what he takes them to be. We offer three interpretations of what Armstrong-style probabilistic laws are, and argue that all three interpretations (...)
  50. The Ultimate Argument Against Armstrong's Contingent Necessitation View of Laws.Amy Karofsky - 2011 - Metaphilosophy 42 (5):723-733.
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