Stephen Mumford's laws in nature


Mumford presents the friends of laws with a Central Dilemma, either horn of which is supposed to be utterly unpalatable. The thrust of the dilemma is this: laws are either external or internal to their instances. If they are external, they cannot govern (or determine) their instances. If they are internal, they cannot govern (or determine) their instances. Ergo, laws cannot govern (or determine) their instances. The role of this dilemma is central to Mumford’s argument against laws: they are supposed to have no credible role to play. The dilemma rests on the premise that laws, if they exist, must do something: they must play a governing role. Of course, it is one thing to say that laws play a governing role and it is quite another to say that laws must play some role. Mumford (§9.4) agonises a lot about this, but his considered view is that laws must play an x- role in virtue of which they make a difference in the determination of the world’s history. As Mumford is fully aware, the supposed ‘governing role’ of laws might be just a metaphor. Still, he thinks his Central Dilemma is powerful against any x-role that laws are supposed to play. We shall see later that this is not so. For the time being, let us play along. The central dilemma is faulty, anyway.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,088

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.

Similar books and articles

Laws of nature outlawed.Stephen Mumford - 1998 - Dialectica 52 (2):83–101.
Laws in nature.Stephen Mumford - 2004 - New York: Routledge.
Laws of nature.Fred I. Dretske - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (2):248-268.
Laws, explanation, governing, and generation.Barry Ward - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (4):537 – 552.
Theoretical modeling and biological laws.Gregory Cooper - 1996 - Philosophy of Science 63 (3):35.


Added to PP

178 (#103,655)

6 months
2 (#785,137)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references