Scientific Practice and the Epistemology of Governing Laws

Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (2):174-188 (2019)
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Abstract

This article is concerned with the relationship between scientific practice and the metaphysics of laws of nature and natural properties. I begin by examining an argument by Michael Townsen Hicks and Jonathan Schaffer that an important feature of scientific practice—namely, that scientists sometimes invoke non-fundamental properties in fundamental laws—is incompatible with metaphysical theories according to which laws govern. I respond to their argument by developing an epistemology for governing laws that is grounded in scientific practice. This epistemology is of general interest for non-Humean theories of laws, for it helps to explain our epistemic access to non-Humean theoretical entities such as governing laws or fundamental powers.

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Tyler Hildebrand
Dalhousie University

Citations of this work

Non‐Humean Theories of Natural Necessity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (5):1-1.
Platonic Laws of Nature.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):365-381.
Laws of Nature as Constraints.Emily Adlam - 2022 - Foundations of Physics 52 (1):1-41.
A Puzzle About Laws and Explanation.Siegfried Jaag - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6085-6102.
The Power to Govern.Erica Shumener - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.

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References found in this work

New Work for a Theory of Universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Laws of Nature.Fred I. Dretske - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (2):248-268.
The Nature of Laws.Michael Tooley - 1977 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 7 (4):667-98.
On The Plurality of Worlds.Graeme Forbes - 1988 - Philosophical Quarterly 38 (151):222-240.
Towards a Best Predictive System Account of Laws of Nature.Chris Dorst - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):877-900.

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