Humeanism and Nonhumeanism about Laws

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian J. Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
About this topic
Summary Anti-Humeans have the feeling that natural laws govern the events in the world: what a law says must happen (or, what a law forbids can’t happen). This intuition might partially originate in our actual day-to-day experiences when we feel resistance against some of our actions. Some goals are not merely difficult to achieve, they are  impossible: we cannot, unaided, jump 10m high. In concert with the facts about our current body mass, leg muscles, and the earth’s gravitational field, the laws of nature prohibit this kind of leap. For Humeans, laws have more of a descriptive character: the laws are (merely) accurate reports of what regularly happens or is universally the case. This intuition comes from the observation that nature seems to be uniform. Alleged laws like Boyle's law (which says that for a fixed amount of an ideal gas kept at a fixed temperature, pressure and volume are inversely proportional (pV=k)) or Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence (E=mc2) record these universal regularities. Those who hold the anti-Humean, first intuition (that the laws necessitate what happens and prohibit what does not happen) do not think the second intuition is wrong. In fact, if, what the laws say, must happen, then it also does happen and we get the regularities for free. The necessities in nature supposedly produce the regularities and thus explain why they are there. Yet, those who subscribe to some kind of regularity view deny that laws necessitate anything because they usually agree with David Hume that the postulation of necessity in nature is suspect.
Key works The most important Humean view comes from David Lewis: Lewis 2001  (esp. pp. 73-77), Lewis 1999  (esp. pp. 8-55 and 224-247). The orthodox anti-Humean accounts are in Armstrong, Tooley, and Dretske: Armstrong 1983Tooley 1997Dretske 1977. Modern anti-Humean accounts come, for example, from dispositionalists: Mumford & Anjum 2011, Bird 2007Ellis 2001
Introductions Psillos 2002
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252 found
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  1. The Simplicity of Physical Laws.Eddy Keming Chen - manuscript
    Physical laws are strikingly simple, although there is no a priori reason they must be so. I propose that nomic realists of all types (Humeans and non-Humeans) should accept that simplicity is a fundamental epistemic guide for discovering and evaluating candidate physical laws. This principle of simplicity clarifies and solves several problems of nomic realism and simplicity. A consequence is that the often-cited epistemic advantage of Humeanism over non-Humeanism is exaggerated, undercutting an influential epistemological argument for Humeanism. Moreover, simplicity is (...)
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  2. Humean Laws: Stability, Undermining, and Context.Antony Eagle - manuscript
    I respond to some challenges to Humean laws deriving from the claimed non-resilience of such laws under counterfactual assumptions.
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  3. The Ideology of Pragmatic Humeanism.Tyler Hildebrand - manuscript
    According to the Humean Best Systems Account, laws are generalizations in the best systematization of non-modal matters of fact. Recently, it has become popular to interpret the notion of a best system pragmatically. The best system is sensitive to our interests--that is, to our goals, abilities, and limitations. This account promises a metaphysically minimalistic analysis of laws, but I argue that it is not as minimalistic as it might appear. Some of the concepts it employs are modally robust, leading to (...)
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  4. Humean Laws, Humean-law Compatibilism, and the Consequence Argument.Kristin M. Mickelson - manuscript
    Traditional compatibilism is the view that free will is compatible with determinism. Humean-law compatibilism (a.k.a. weak-law compatibilism), is the view that free will is compatible with determinism, where determinism is defined in terms of a broadly Humean view of the laws of nature. A growing number of philosophers hold that Humean-law compatibilists are targeted by and have special resources to resist arguments for traditional incompatibilism, including the Consequence Argument (cf. Beebee and Mele 2002, Perry 2004, Hetherington 2006, Berofsky 2012, Mele (...)
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  5. Hypertemporal Humeanism and the Open Future.Benjamin Smart - manuscript
    Take strong open-future Humeanism (OFH) to comprise the following three tenets: (i) that truth supervenes on being (ii) that there is a dynamic present moment, and (iii) that there are no future facts; that is, contingent propositions about the future obtain truth values only when their referents are actualised (Tooley 1997). On the face of it this is a deeply problematic metaphysic - if there are no future facts then prima facie the Humean can neither provide laws of nature, nor (...)
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  6. Humean Nomic Essentialism.Harjit Bhogal & Zee R. Perry - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Humeanism -- the idea that there are no necessary connections between distinct existences -- and Nomic Essentialism -- the idea that properties essentially play the nomic roles that they do -- are two of the most important and influential positions in the metaphysics of science. Traditionally, it has been thought that these positions were incompatible competitors. We disagree. We argue that there is an attractive version of Humeanism that captures the idea that, for example, mass essentially plays the role that (...)
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  7. If Naturalism is True, then Scientific Explanation is Impossible.Tomas Bogardus - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-24.
    I begin by retracing an argument from Aristotle for final causes in science. Then, I advance this ancient thought, and defend an argument for a stronger conclusion: that no scientific explanation can succeed, if Naturalism is true. The argument goes like this: (1) Any scientific explanation can be successful only if it crucially involves a natural regularity. Next, I argue that (2) any explanation can be successful only if it crucially involves no element that calls out for explanation but lacks (...)
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  8. A Humean Non-Humeanism.David Builes - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-18.
    How should we account for the extraordinary regularity in the world? Humeans and Non-Humeans sharply disagree. According to Non-Humeans, the world behaves in an extraordinarily regular way because of certain necessary connections in nature. However, Humeans have thought that Non-Humean views are metaphysically objectionable. In particular, there are two general metaphysical principles that Humeans have found attractive that are incompatible with all existing versions of Non-Humeanism. My goal in this paper is to develop a novel version of Non-Humeanism that is (...)
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  9. Experience and Time: A Metaphysical Approach.David Builes & Michele Odisseas Impagnatiello - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    What is the temporal structure of conscious experience? While it is popular to think that our most basic conscious experiences are temporally extended, we will be arguing against this view, on the grounds that it makes our conscious experiences depend on the future in an implausible way. We then defend an alternative view of the temporal structure of experience from a variety of different objections. Along the way, we hope to illustrate the wider philosophical ramifications of the relationship between experience (...)
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  10. The primitivist response to the inference problem.Ashley Coates - forthcoming - Dialectica.
    While the inference problem is widely thought to be one of the most serious problems facing non-Humean accounts of laws, Jonathan Schaffer has argued that a primitivist response straightforwardly dissolves the problem. On this basis, he claims that the inference problem is really a pseudo-problem. Here I clarify the prospects of a primitivist response to the inference problem and their implications for the philosophical significance of the problem. I argue both that it is a substantial question whether this sort of (...)
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  11. There Is No Measurement Problem for Humeans.Chris Dorst - forthcoming - Noûs.
    The measurement problem concerns an apparent conflict between the two fundamental principles of quantum mechanics, namely the Schrödinger equation and the measurement postulate. These principles describe inconsistent behavior for quantum systems in so-called "measurement contexts." Many theorists have thought that the measurement problem can only be resolved by proposing a mechanistic explanation of (genuine or apparent) wavefunction collapse that avoids explicit reference to "measurement." However, I argue here that the measurement problem dissolves if we accept Humeanism about laws of nature. (...)
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  12. Predictive Infelicities and the Instability of Predictive Optimality.Chris Dorst - forthcoming - In Christian Loew, Siegfried Jaag & Michael Townsen Hicks (eds.), Humean Laws for Human Agents. Oxford University Press.
    Recent neo-Humean theories of laws of nature have placed substantial emphasis on the characteristic epistemic roles played by laws in scientific practice. In particular, these theories seek to understand laws in terms of their optimal predictive utility to creatures in our epistemic situation. In contrast to other approaches, this view has the distinct advantage that it is able to account for a number of pervasive features possessed by putative actual laws of nature. However, it also faces some unique challenges. First, (...)
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  13. Symmetries as Humean Metalaws.Callum Duguid - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-38.
    Symmetry principles are a central part of contemporary physics, yet there has been surprisingly little metaphysical work done on them. This paper develops the Wignerian treatment of symmetries as higher-order laws – metalaws – within a Humean framework of lawhood. Lange has raised two obstacles to Humean metalaws, and the paper shows that the account has the resources available to respond to both. It is argued that this framework for Humean metalaws stands as an example of naturalistic metaphysics, able to (...)
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  14. The Governing Conception of Laws.Nina Emery - forthcoming - Ergo.
    In her paper, “The Non-Governing Conception of Laws,” Helen Beebee argues that it is not a conceptual truth that laws of nature govern, and thus that one need not insist on a metaphysical account of laws that makes sense of their governing role. I agree with the first point but not the second. Although it is not a conceptual truth, the fact that laws govern follows straightforwardly from an important (though under-appreciated) principle of scientific theory choice combined with a highly (...)
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  15. How to be Humean about symmetries.Toby Friend - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    I describe three extant attempts to identify the global external symmetries within a Humean framework with theorems of some or other deductive systematization of the world, respectively, the best system, a meta-best system and a maximally simple system. Each has merits, but also serious flaws. Instead, I propose a view of global external symmetries as consequences of the structure of Humean-consistent world-making relations.
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  16. How to be Humean about idealisation laws.Toby Friend - forthcoming - Philosophy of Science:1-29.
    If one has Humean inclinations, what account should one provide for idealisation laws? I introduce the most currently popular Humean approach to laws of nature: the Best Systems Account, along with some basic requirements for how to be the Humean. I then show why idealisation laws are unlikely to be accommodated within this account of laws. Finally, I offer an alternative approach, which takes idealisation laws to be meta-laws, placing requirements on the theorems of the best system.
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  17. Naturalness by Law.Verónica Gómez Sánchez - forthcoming - Noûs.
    The intuitive distinction between natural and unnatural properties (e.g., green vs. grue) informs our theorizing not only in fundamental physics, but also in non-fundamental domains. This paper develops a reductive account of this broad notion of naturalness that covers non-fundamental properties: for a property to be natural, I propose, is for it to figure in a law of nature. After motivating the account, I defend it from a potential circularity charge. I argue that a suitably broad notion of lawhood can (...)
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  18. Humeanism and the Pragmatic Turn.Michael Townsen Hicks, Siegfried Jaag & Christian Loew - forthcoming - In Humean Laws for Human Agents. Oxford University Press.
    A central question in the philosophy of science is: What is a law of nature? Different answers to this question define an important schism: Humeans, in the wake of David Hume, hold that the laws of nature are nothing over and above what actually happens and reject irreducible facts about natural modality (Lewis, 1983, 1994; cf. Miller, 2015). According to Non-Humeans, by contrast, the laws are metaphysically fundamental (Maudlin, 2007) or grounded in primitive modal structures, such as dispositional essences of (...)
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  19. Humean Laws for Human Agents.Christian Loew, Siegfried Jaag & Michael Townsen Hicks (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford UP.
  20. Revisiting McKay and Johnson's counterexample to beta.Pedro Merlussi - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations:1-15.
    In debates concerning the consequence argument, it has long been claimed that McKay and Johnson (1996) demonstrated the invalidity of rule (β). Here, I argue that their result is not as robust as we might like to think. First, I argue that McKay and Johnson’s counterexample is successful if one adopts a certain interpretation of “no choice about” and if one is willing to deny the conditional excluded middle principle. In order to make this point I demonstrate that (β) is (...)
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  21. The Power to Govern.Erica Shumener - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
    I provide a new account of what it is for the laws of nature to govern the evolution of events. I locate the source of governance in the content of law propositions. As such, I do not appeal to primitive notions of ground, essence, or production to characterize governance. After introducing the account, I use it to outline previously unrecognized varieties of governance. I also specify that laws must govern to have two theoretical virtues: explanatory power as well as a (...)
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  22. The Past Hypothesis and the Nature of Physical Laws.Eddy Keming Chen - 2023 - In Barry Loewer, Eric Winsberg & Brad Weslake (eds.), The Probability Map of the Universe: Essays on David Albert's Time and Chance. Cambridge, Masschusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 204-248.
    If the Past Hypothesis underlies the arrows of time, what is the status of the Past Hypothesis? In this paper, I examine the role of the Past Hypothesis in the Boltzmannian account and defend the view that the Past Hypothesis is a candidate fundamental law of nature. Such a view is known to be compatible with Humeanism about laws, but as I argue it is also supported by a minimal non-Humean "governing'' view. Some worries arise from the non-dynamical and time-dependent (...)
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  23. How to be a powers theorist about functional laws, conservation laws and symmetries.Samuel Kimpton-Nye - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (1):317-332.
    This paper defends an account of the laws of nature in terms of irreducibly modal properties (aka powers) from the threat posed by functional laws, conservation laws and symmetries. It thus shows how powers theorists can avoid ad hoc explanations and resist an inflated ontology of powers and governing laws. The key is to understand laws not as flowing from the essences of powers, as per Bird (2007), but as features of a description of how powers are possibly distributed, as (...)
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  24. Laws of Nature as Constraints.Emily Adlam - 2022 - Foundations of Physics 52 (1):1-41.
    The laws of nature have come a long way since the time of Newton: quantum mechanics and relativity have given us good reasons to take seriously the possibility of laws which may be non-local, atemporal, ‘all-at-once,’ retrocausal, or in some other way not well-suited to the standard dynamical time evolution paradigm. Laws of this kind can be accommodated within a Humean approach to lawhood, but many extant non-Humean approaches face significant challenges when we try to apply them to laws outside (...)
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  25. Governing Without A Fundamental Direction of Time: Minimal Primitivism about Laws of Nature.Eddy Keming Chen & Sheldon Goldstein - 2022 - In Yemima Ben-Menahem (ed.), Rethinking the Concept of Law of Nature. Cham: Springer. pp. 21-64.
    The Great Divide in metaphysical debates about laws of nature is between Humeans, who think that laws merely describe the distribution of matter, and non-Humeans, who think that laws govern it. The metaphysics can place demands on the proper formulations of physical theories. It is sometimes assumed that the governing view requires a fundamental / intrinsic direction of time: to govern, laws must be dynamical, producing later states of the world from earlier ones, in accord with the fundamental direction of (...)
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  26. Laws, melodies, and the paradox of predictability.Dorst Chris - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-21.
    If the laws of nature are deterministic, then it seems possible that a Laplacean intelligence that knows the initial conditions and the laws would be able to accurately predict everything that will ever happen. However, it would be easy to construct a counterpredictive device that falsifies any revealed prediction about its future behavior. What would then occur if a Laplacean intelligence encountered a counterpredictive device? This is the paradox of predictability. A number of philosophers have proposed solutions to it, though (...)
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  27. Interacting Minds in the Physical World.Alin C. Cucu - 2022 - Dissertation, University of Lausanne
    Mental causation, idea that it is us – via our minds – who cause bodily actions is as commonsensical as it is indispensable for our understanding of ourselves as rational agents. Somewhat less uncontroversial, but nonetheless widespread (at least among ordinary people) is the idea that the mind is non-physical, following the intuition that what is physical can neither act nor think nor judge morally. Taken together, and cast into a metaphysical thesis, the two intuitions yield interactive dualism: the view (...)
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  28. Why do the Laws Support Counterfactuals?Chris Dorst - 2022 - Erkenntnis 87 (2):545-566.
    This paper aims to explain why the laws of nature are held fixed in counterfactual reasoning. I begin by highlighting three salient features of counterfactual reasoning: it is conservative, nomically guided, and it uses hindsight. I then present a rationale for our engagement in counterfactual reasoning that aims to make sense of these features. In particular, I argue that counterfactual reasoning helps us evaluate the evidential relations between unanticipated pieces of evidence and various hypotheses of interest about the history of (...)
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  29. The nomological argument for the existence of God.Tyler Hildebrand & Thomas Metcalf - 2022 - Noûs 56 (2):443-472.
    According to the Nomological Argument, observed regularities in nature are best explained by an appeal to a supernatural being. A successful explanation must avoid two perils. Some explanations provide too little structure, predicting a universe without regularities. Others provide too much structure, thereby precluding an explanation of certain types of lawlike regularities featured in modern scientific theories. We argue that an explanation based in the creative, intentional action of a supernatural being avoids these two perils whereas leading competitors do not. (...)
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  30. The Problem of Radical Freedom.Andreas Hüttemann - 2022 - In Anna Marmodoro, Christopher Austin & Andrea Roselli (eds.), Powers, Time and Free Will. Springer. pp. 185-198.
    Whether or not we are able to do x is on many philosophical accounts of our moral practice relevant for whether we are responsible for not doing x or for being excusable for not having done x. In this paper I will examine how such accounts are affected by whether a Humean or non-Humean account of laws is presupposed. More particularly, I will argue that (on one interpretation) Humean conceptions of laws, while able to avoid the consequence argument, run into (...)
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  31. Fragmenting Reality: An Essay on Passage, Causality and Time Travel.Samuele Iaquinto & Giuliano Torrengo - 2022 - London: Bloomsbury Academic.
    The growing interest in fragmentalism is one of the most exciting trends in philosophy of time and is gradually reshaping the contemporary debate. Providing an extensive interpretation of this view, Samuele Iaquinto and Giuliano Torrengo articulate a novel theory of the passage of time and argue that it is the most effective in vindicating the inherent dynamism of reality. Iaquinto and Torrengo offer the first full-range application of fragmentalism to a number of metaphysical topics, including the open future, causation, the (...)
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  32. Hume and the Laws of Nature.Michael Jacovides - 2022 - Hume Studies 46 (1):3-31.
    The common view that Hume is a regularity theorist about laws of nature isn’t textually well grounded. The texts show that he thinks of them as objective governing principles that could conceivably be violated while still counting as a law of nature. This is a standard view at the time, and Hume borrows it from others. He implies that the best evidence for rational religion is the exceptionless workings of the laws of nature, he argues that suicide isn’t incompatible with (...)
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  33. Self-Explanation and Empty-Base Explanation.Yannic Kappes - 2022 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 8 (3):436-453.
    This paper explores a novel notion of self-explanation that combines ideas from two sources: the tripartite account of explanation, according to which a proposition can help explain another either in the capacity of a reason why the latter obtains or in the capacity of an explanatory link, and the notion of an empty-base explanation, which generalizes the ideas of explanation by zero-grounding and explanation by status. After having introduced these ideas and the novel notion of self-explanation, I argue that the (...)
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  34. Laws of Nature: Necessary and Contingent.Samuel Kimpton-Nye - 2022 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (4):875-895.
    This paper shows how a niche account of the metaphysics of laws of nature and physical properties—the Powers-BSA—can underpin both a sense in which the laws are metaphysically necessary and a sense in which it is true that the laws could have been different. The ability to reconcile entrenched disagreement should count in favour of a philosophical theory, so this paper constitutes a novel argument for the Powers-BSA by showing how it can reconcile disagreement about the laws’ modal status. This (...)
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  35. Revaluing Laws of Nature in Secularized Science.Eli I. Lichtenstein - 2022 - In Yemima Ben-Menahem (ed.), Rethinking the Concept of Law of Nature: Natural Order in the Light of Contemporary Science. Springer. pp. 347-377.
    Discovering laws of nature was a way to worship a law-giving God, during the Scientific Revolution. So why should we consider it worthwhile now, in our own more secularized science? For historical perspective, I examine two competing early modern theological traditions that related laws of nature to different divine attributes, and their secular legacy in views ranging from Kant and Nietzsche to Humean and ‘governing’ accounts in recent analytic metaphysics. Tracing these branching offshoots of ethically charged God-concepts sheds light on (...)
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  36. Special-science counterfactuals.Christian List - 2022 - The Monist 105 (2):194–213.
    On the standard analysis, a counterfactual conditional such as “If P had been the case, then Q would have been the case” is true in the actual world if, in all nearest possible worlds in which its antecedent (P) is true, its consequent (Q) is also true. Despite its elegance, this analysis faces a difficulty if the laws of nature are deterministic. Then the antecedent could not have been true, given prior conditions. So, it is unclear what the relevant “nearest (...)
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  37. Are we free to make the laws?Christian Loew & Andreas Hüttemann - 2022 - Synthese 200 (1):1-16.
    Humeans about laws maintain that laws of nature are nothing over and above the complete distribution of non-modal, categorical properties in spacetime. ‘Humean compatibilists’ argue that if Humeanism about laws is true, then agents in a deterministic world can do otherwise than they are lawfully determined to do because of the distinctive nature of Humean laws. More specifically, they reject a central premise of the Consequence argument by maintaining that deterministic laws of nature are ‘up to us’. In this paper, (...)
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  38. The Metaphysics of Laws of Nature: The Rules of the Game.Walter Ott - 2022 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    It can seem obvious that we live in a world governed by laws of nature, yet it was not until the seventeenth century that the concept of a law came to the fore. Ever since, it has been attended by controversy: what does it mean to say that Boyle's law governs the expansion of a gas, or that the planets obey the law of gravity? Laws are rules that permit calculations and predictions. What does the universe have to be like, (...)
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  39. Kinds and Explanations.Petter Sandstad & Ludger Jansen - 2022 - In Mirosław Szatkowski (ed.), E.J. Lowe and Ontology. New York, USA: pp. 165-187.
    Sparrows fly because they are birds. This mushroom is poisonous because it is an Amanita muscaria. Pointing out the kind to which things belong explains many of their properties. Jonathan Lowe’s four-category ontology and his account of laws of nature provide a framework to account for the explanatory appeal of referring to kind membership. For Lowe, “Electron has Unit-negative charge” is a typical example for a law of nature: a kind universal characterized by a property universal. We present both Lowe’s (...)
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  40. Laws of Nature and Theory Choice.Alessandro Torza - 2022 - Synthese 200 (6):1-28.
    I articulate a Global Best-System Account (GBSA) of laws of nature along broadly Mill–Ramsey–Lewis lines. The guiding idea is that the job of laws is to capture real patterns across time—where a pattern is real if it allows to compress information about matters of particular fact. The GBSA’s key ingredient is a definition of ‘best system’ in terms of a ranking method that meets a number of desiderata: it is rigorously defined; it outputs the ranking based on the candidate systems’ (...)
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  41. The laws of modality.Matthew Tugby - 2022 - Philosophical Studies 179 (8):2597-2618.
    Nomic realists have traditionally put laws to work within a theory of natural modality, in order to provide a metaphysical source for causal necessitation, counterfactuals, and dispositions. However, laws are well-suited to perform other work as well. Necessitation is a widespread phenomenon and includes cases of categorial, conceptual, grounding, mathematical and normative necessitation. A permissive theory of universals allows us to extend nomic realism into these other domains. With a particular focus on grounding necessitation, it is argued that the sorts (...)
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  42. Tractability and laws.Isaac Wilhelm - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-17.
    According to the Best System Account of lawhood, laws of nature are theorems of the deductive systems that best balance simplicity and strength. In this paper, I advocate a different account of lawhood which is related, in spirit, to the BSA: according to my account, laws are theorems of deductive systems that best balance simplicity, strength, and also calculational tractability. I discuss two problems that the BSA faces, and I show that my account solves them. I also use my account (...)
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  43. Induction and the Glue of the World.Harjit Bhogal - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):319-333.
    Views which deny that there are necessary connections between distinct existences have often been criticized for leading to inductive skepticism. If there is no glue holding the world together then there seems to be no basis on which to infer from past to future. However, deniers of necessary connections have typically been unconcerned. After all, they say, everyone has a problem with induction. But, if we look at the connection between induction and explanation, we can develop the problem of induction (...)
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  44. Quantum Mechanics in a Time-Asymmetric Universe: On the Nature of the Initial Quantum State.Eddy Keming Chen - 2021 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 72 (4):1155–1183.
    In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, we postulate a low-entropy boundary condition to account for the temporal asymmetry. In this paper, I show that the Past Hypothesis also contains enough information to simplify the quantum ontology and define a unique initial condition in such a world. First, I introduce Density Matrix Realism, the thesis that the quantum universe is described by a fundamental density matrix that represents something objective. This stands in sharp contrast to Wave Function (...)
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  45. Lawful Humean explanations are not circular.Callum Duguid - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6039-6059.
    A long-standing charge of circularity against regularity accounts of laws has recently seen a surge of renewed interest. The difficulty is that we appeal to laws to explain their worldly instances, but if these laws are descriptions of regularities in the instances then they are explained by those very instances. By the transitivity of explanation, we reach an absurd conclusion: instances of the laws explain themselves. While drawing a distinction between metaphysical and scientific explanations merely modifies the challenge rather than (...)
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  46. Typicality of Dynamics and the Laws of Nature.Aldo Filomeno - 2021 - In Cristian Soto (ed.), Current Debates in Philosophy of Science: In Honor of Roberto Torretti. Synthese Library Series, Springer.
    Certain results, most famously in classical statistical mechanics and complex systems, but also in quantum mechanics and high-energy physics, yield a coarse-grained stable statistical pattern in the long run. The explanation of these results shares a common structure: the results hold for a 'typical' dynamics, that is, for most of the underlying dynamics. In this paper I argue that the structure of the explanation of these results might shed some light --a different light-- on philosophical debates on the laws of (...)
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  47. Why I'm not a Humean.Toby Friend - 2021 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly (online access):1-23.
    There is an inconsistency between the access we have to our conscious lives and the Humean thesis of causal generalism. This was first drawn attention to by John Hawthorne, whose argument withstands a number of objections. Nevertheless, it has weaknessess. The first premise must be weakened if Humeans are to be compelled to accept it, and consequently, the second premise will have to be stronger to retain validity. I shore up the case against Humeanism by providing revised premises along with (...)
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  48. Varieties of dispositional essentialism about natural laws.Salim Hirèche - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (3):1-28.
    An important task for metaphysicians and philosophers of science is to account for laws of nature – in particular, how they distinguish themselves from ‘mere’ regularities, and the modal force they are endowed with, ‘natural necessity’. Dispositional essentialism about laws is roughly the view that laws distinguish themselves by being grounded in the essences of natural entities. This paper does not primarily concern how essentialism compares to its main rivals – Humeanism and Armstrongeanism. Rather, it distinguishes and comparatively assesses various (...)
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  49. No laws and (thin) powers in, no (governing) laws out.Stavros Ioannidis, Vassilis Livanios & Stathis Psillos - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-26.
    Non-Humean accounts of the metaphysics of nature posit either laws or powers in order to account for natural necessity and world-order. We argue that such monistic views face fundamental problems. On the one hand, neo-Aristotelians cannot give unproblematic power-based accounts of the functional laws among quantities offered by physical theories, as well as of the place of conservation laws and symmetries in a lawless ontology; in order to capture these characteristics, commitment to governing laws is indispensable. On the other hand, (...)
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  50. A puzzle about laws and explanation.Siegfried Jaag - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6085-6102.
    In this paper, we argue that the popular claim that laws of nature explain their instances creates a philosophical puzzle when it is combined with the widely held requirement that explanations need to be underpinned by ‘wordly’ relations. We argue that a “direct solution” to the puzzle that accounts for both explanatory laws and explanatory realism requires endorsing at least a radical metaphysics. Then, we examine the ramifications of a “skeptical solution”, i.e., dissolving it by giving up at least one (...)
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