Edited by Markus Schrenk (Universität Köln)
Assistant editor: Florian Boge (University of Duesseldorf)
|Summary||The best known Best Systems Account of Laws of Nature is often referred to as the Mill-Ramsey-Lewis account. All three philosophers have formulated versions of it where David Lewis's is the most sophisticated. It says, roughly: Suppose you knew everything about the past, present, and future, all facts, all events, and you organised your entire knowledge as simply as possible in various systems. The statements in these systems must mention natural properties only. A contingent generalisation is, then, a law of nature if and only if it appears as an axiom or theorem in the one system that achieves a far better combination of simplicity, strength and fit than any of the other competing systems. To have strength is to bear a great deal of informational content about the world; to be simple is to state everything in a concise way, not to be redundant, etc., to fit is, especially for the probabilistic laws, to accord as much as possible with the actual outcomes of world history.|
|Key works||The original Best System Analysis is in: Lewis, David. Counterfactuals. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1973, pp73; and Lewis, David. Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999 (esp. papers 8-55 and 224-247).
Versions of it that are discussed under the heading Better Best Systems can be found here: Cohen & Callender 2009, Schrenk 2006.
|Introductions||There are no introductions specifically on this subject but see the general entry "Laws of Nature" and references there.|
Show all references
- Anti-Realism about Laws (17)
- Ceteris Paribus Laws (103)
- Humeanism and Nonhumeanism about Laws (67)
- Lawlikeness (33)
- Laws as Relations between Universals (30)
- Necessitarianism about Laws (73)
- Nomological Necessity (61)
- Probabilistic Laws (19)
- Special Science Laws (44)
- Laws of Nature, Misc (123)
- Explanation and Laws (22)
- Causation and Laws (42)
- Dispositions and Laws (66)
Using PhilPapers from home?
Click here to configure this browser for off-campus access.
Monitor this page
Be alerted of all new items appearing on this page. Choose how you want to monitor it:
David Bourget (London)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Catarina Dutilh Novaes
John Simpson Wilkins
Learn more about PhilPapers