What is the significance of the intuition that laws of nature govern?

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):307-324 (2007)

Abstract

Recently, proponents of Humean Supervenience have challenged the plausibility of the intuition that the laws of nature ‘govern’, or guide, the evolution of events in the universe. Certain influential thought experiments authored by John Carroll, Michael Tooley, and others, rely strongly on such intuitions. These thought experiments are generally regarded as playing a central role in the lawhood debate, suggesting that the Mill-Ramsey-Lewis view of the laws of nature, and the related doctrine of the Humean Supervenience of laws, are false. In this paper, I take on these recent challenges, arguing that the intuition that the laws govern should be taken seriously. Still, I find the recent discussions insightful, in certain ways. Employing some ideas from one of the critics, I draw some non-standard conclusions about the significance of the thought experiments to the lawhood debate.

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Susan Schneider
Florida Atlantic University

References found in this work

Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Metaphysics Within Physics.Tim Maudlin - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
Humean Supervenience Debugged.David Lewis - 1994 - Mind 103 (412):473--490.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 2003 - In John Heil (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: A Guide and Anthology. Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work

Nomothetic Explanation and Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, volume 12. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 164–202.
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.
The Power to Govern.Erica Shumener - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
Fundamental Properties and the Laws of Nature.Heather Demarest - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (5):334-344.

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