The nature of laws

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 7 (4):667-98 (1977)
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This paper is concerned with the question of the truth conditions of nomological statements. My fundamental thesis is that it is possible to set out an acceptable, noncircular account of the truth conditions of laws and nomological statements if and only if relations among universals - that is, among properties and relations, construed realistically - are taken as the truth-makers for such statements. My discussion will be restricted to strictly universal, nonstatistical laws. The reason for this limitation is not that I feel there is anything dubious about the concept of a statistical law, nor that I feel that basic laws cannot be statistical. The reason is methodological. The case of strictly universal, nonstatistical laws would seem to be the simplest case. If the problem of the truth conditions of laws can be solved for this simple subcase, one can then investigate whether the solution can be extended to the more complex cases. I believe that the solution I propose here does have that property, though I shall not pursue that question here.1



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Michael Tooley
University of Colorado, Boulder

References found in this work

The Foundations of Mathematics and Other Logical Essays.Frank Plumpton Ramsey - 1925 - London, England: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Edited by R. B. Braithwaite.
A causal theory of counterfactuals.Frank Jackson - 1977 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 55 (1):3 – 21.
Counterfactuals And Possible Worlds.Jonathan Bennett - 1974 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 4 (December):381-402.
Hypothetical reasoning.Nicholas Rescher - 1964 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 156:503-504.

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