Bookmark and Share

Humeanism and Nonhumeanism about Laws

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Westfälische Wilhelms Universität, Münster)
Assistant editor: Florian Boge (University of Cologne, University of Cologne)
About this topic
Summary Anti-Humeans have the feeling that natural laws govern the events in the world: what a law says must happen (or, what a law forbids can’t happen). This intuition might partially originate in our actual day-to-day experiences when we feel resistance against some of our actions. Some goals are not merely difficult to achieve, they are  impossible: we cannot, unaided, jump 10m high. In concert with the facts about our current body mass, leg muscles, and the earth’s gravitational field, the laws of nature prohibit this kind of leap. For Humeans, laws have more of a descriptive character: the laws are (merely) accurate reports of what regularly happens or is universally the case. This intuition comes from the observation that nature seems to be uniform. Alleged laws like Boyle's law (which says that for a fixed amount of an ideal gas kept at a fixed temperature, pressure and volume are inversely proportional (pV=k)) or Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence (E=mc2)) record these universal regularities. Those who hold the anti-Humean, first intuition (that the laws necessitate what happens and prohibit what does not happen) do not think the second intuition is wrong. In fact, if, what the laws say, must happen, then it also does happen and we get the regularities for free. The necessities in nature supposedly produce the regularities and thus explain why they are there. Yet, those who subscribe to some kind of regularity view deny that laws necessitate anything because they usually agree with David Hume that the postulation of necessity in nature is suspect.
Key works The most important Humean view comes from David Lewis: Lewis 2001  (esp. pp73), Lewis 1999  (esp. papers 8-55 and 224-247). The orthodox anti-Humean accounts are in Armstrong, Tooley, and Dretske: Armstrong 1983Tooley 1997Dretske 1977. Modern anti-Humean accounts come, for example, from dispositionalists: Mumford & Anjum 2011, Bird 2007Ellis 2001
Introductions Psillos 2002
  Show all references
Related categories
Siblings:
77 found
Search inside:
(import / add options)   Sort by:
1 — 50 / 77
  1. Joseph Agassi (1995). Blame Not the Laws of Nature. Foundations of Science 1 (1):131-154.
    1. Lies, Error and Confusion 2. Lies 3. The Demarcation of Science: Historical 4. The Demarcation of Science: Recent 5. Observed Regularities and Laws of Nature.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  2. Helen Beebee (2006). Does Anything Hold the Universe Together? Synthese 149 (3):509-533.
    According to ‘regularity theories’ of causation, the obtaining of causal relations depends on no more than the obtaining of certain kinds of regularity. Regularity theorists are thus anti-realists about necessary connections in nature. Regularity theories of one form or another have constituted the dominant view in analytic Philosophy for a long time, but have recently come in for some robust criticism, notably from Galen Strawson. Strawson’s criticisms are natural criticisms to make, but have not so far provoked much response from (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  3. Helen Beebee (2000). The Non-Governing Conception of Laws of Nature. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (3):571-594.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  4. Nora Berenstain & James Ladyman (2012). Ontic Structural Realism and Modality. In Elaine Landry & Dean Rickles (eds.), Structural Realism: Structure, Object, and Causality. Springer.
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  5. John Bigelow, John Collins & Robert Pargetter (1993). The Big Bad Bug: What Are the Humean's Chances? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (3):443-462.
    Humean supervenience is the doctrine that there are no necessary connections in the world. David Lewis identifies one big bad bug to the programme of providing Humean analyses for apparently non-Humean features of the world. The bug is chance. We put the bug under the microscope, and conclude that chance is no special problem for the Humean.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  6. Alexander Bird (2008). The Epistemological Argument Against Lewis's Regularity View of Laws. Philosophical Studies 138 (1):73–89.
    I argue for the claim that if Lewis’s regularity theory of laws were true, we could not know any positive law statement to be true. Premise 1: According to that theory, for any law statement true of the actual world, there is always a nearby world where the law statement is false (a world that differs with respect to one matter of particular fact). Premise 2: One cannot know a proposition to be true if it is false in a nearby (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  7. John Carroll (1990). The Humean Tradition. Philosophical Review 99 (2):185-219.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  8. Nancy Cartwright (1983). How the Laws of Physics Lie. Oxford University Press.
    In this sequence of philosophical essays about natural science, the author argues that fundamental explanatory laws, the deepest and most admired successes of modern physics, do not in fact describe regularities that exist in nature. Cartwright draws from many real-life examples to propound a novel distinction: that theoretical entities, and the complex and localized laws that describe them, can be interpreted realistically, but the simple unifying laws of basic theory cannot.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  9. John Earman & John T. Roberts (2005). Contact with the Nomic: A Challenge for Deniers of Humean Supervenience About Laws of Nature Part I: Humean Supervenience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1):1–22.
    This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easy to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of the Humean base (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  10. John Earman & John T. Roberts (2005). Contact with the Nomic: A Challenge for Deniers of Humean Supervenience About Laws of Nature Part II: The Epistemological Argument for Humean Supervenience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (2):253–286.
    In Part I, we presented and motivated a new formulation of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). Here in Part II, we present an epistemological argument in defense of HS, thus formulated. Our contention is that one can combine a modest realism about laws of nature with a proper recognition of the importance of empirical testability in the epistemology of science only if one accepts HS.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  11. Review author[S.]: John Earman (1993). In Defense of Laws: Reflections on Bas Van Fraassen's Laws and Symmetry. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (2):413-419.
  12. M. Eddon & C. J. G. Meacham (forthcoming). No Work For a Theory of Universals. In Jonathan Schaffer & Barry Loewer (eds.), A Companion to David Lewis.
    Several variants of Lewis's Best System Account of Lawhood have been proposed that avoid its commitment to perfectly natural properties. There has been little discussion of the relative merits of these proposals, and little discussion of how one might extend this strategy to provide natural property-free variants of Lewis's other accounts, such as his accounts of duplication, intrinsicality, causation, counterfactuals, and reference. We undertake these projects in this paper. We begin by providing a framework for classifying and assessing the variants (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  13. Michael Esfeld (2010). Humean Metaphysics Versus a Metaphysics of Powers. In Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press. 119.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  14. Ned Hall, Humean Reductionism About Laws of Nature.
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  15. John F. Halpin (1994). Legitimizing Chance: The Best-System Approach to Probabilistic Laws in Physical Theory. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (3):317 – 338.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  16. Toby Handfield (2008). Humean Dispositionalism. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):113-126.
    Humean metaphysics is characterized by a rejection of necessary connections between distinct existences. Dispositionalists claim that there are basic causal powers. The existence of such properties is widely held to be incompatible with the Humean rejection of necessary connections. In this paper I present a novel theory of causal powers that vindicates the dispositionalist claim that causal powers are basic, without embracing brute necessary connections. The key assumptions of the theory are that there are natural types of causal processes, and (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  17. Toby Handfield (2005). Lange on Essentialism, Counterfactuals, and Explanation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (1):81 – 85.
    Marc Lange objects to scientific essentialists that they can give no better account of the counterfactual invariance of laws than Humeans. While conceding this point succeeds ad hominem against some essentialists, I show that it does not undermine essentialism in general. Moreover, Lange's alternative account of the relation between laws and counterfactuals is - with minor modification - compatible with essentialism.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  18. Michael Townsen Hicks & Peter van Elswyk (forthcoming). Humean Laws and Circular Explanation. Philosophical Studies.
  19. Tyler Hildebrand (2014). Can Bare Dispositions Explain Categorical Regularities? Philosophical Studies 167 (3):569-584.
    One of the traditional desiderata for a metaphysical theory of laws of nature is that it be able to explain natural regularities. Some philosophers have postulated governing laws to fill this explanatory role. Recently, however, many have attempted to explain natural regularities without appealing to governing laws. Suppose that some fundamental properties are bare dispositions. In virtue of their dispositional nature, these properties must be (or are likely to be) distributed in regular patterns. Thus it would appear that an ontology (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  20. Tyler Hildebrand (2013). Tooley's Account of the Necessary Connection Between Law and Regularity. Philosophical Studies 166 (1):33-43.
    Fred Dretske, Michael Tooley, and David Armstrong accept a theory of governing laws of nature according to which laws are atomic states of affairs that necessitate corresponding natural regularities. Some philosophers object to the Dretske/Tooley/Armstrong theory on the grounds that there is no illuminating account of the necessary connection between governing law and natural regularity. In response, Michael Tooley has provided a reductive account of this necessary connection in his book Causation (1987). In this essay, I discuss an improved version (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  21. Herbert Hochberg (1981). Natural Necessity and Laws of Nature. Philosophy of Science 48 (3):386-399.
    The paper considers recent proposals by Armstrong, Dretske, and Tooley that revive the view that statements of laws of nature are grounded by the existence of higher order facts relating universals. Several objections to such a view are raised and an alternative analysis, recognizing general facts, is considered. Such an alternative is shown to meet a number of the objections raised against the appeal to higher order facts and it is also related to views of Hume and Wittgenstein. Further objections (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  22. Carl Hoefer (1997). On Lewis's Objective Chance: "Humean Supervenience Debugged". Mind 106 (422):321-334.
  23. Andreas Hüttemann (2014). Scientific Practice and Necessary Connections. Theoria 79:29-39.
    In this paper I will introduce a problem for at least those Humeans who believe that the future is open.More particularly, I will argue that the following aspect of scientific practice cannot be explained by openfuture- Humeanism: There is a distinction between states that we cannot bring about (which are represented in scientific models as nomologically impossible) and states that we merely happen not to bring about. Open-future-Humeanism has no convincing account of this distinction. Therefore it fails to explain why (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  24. Lydia Jaeger (2002). Humean Supervenience and Best-System Laws. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (2):141 – 155.
    David Lewis has proposed an analysis of lawhood in terms of membership of a system of regularities optimizing simplicity and strength in information content. This article studies his proposal against the broader background of the project of Humean supervenience. In particular, I claim that, in Lewis's account of lawhood, his intuition about small deviations from a given law in nearby worlds (in order to avoid backtracking and epiphenomena) leads to the conclusion that laws do not support (certain) counterfactuals and do (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  25. Joel Katzav (2002). Humean Metaphysics. Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (1):59-73.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (9 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  26. Max Kistler (2005). Necessary Laws. In Jan Faye, Paul Needham, Uwe Scheffler & Max Urchs (eds.), Nature’s Principles. Springer. 201-227.
    In the first part of this paper, I argue against the view that laws of nature are contingent, by attacking a necessary condition for its truth within the framework of a conception of laws as relations between universals. I try to show that there is no independent reason to think that universals have an essence independent of their nomological properties. However, such a non-qualitative essence is required to make sense of the idea that different laws link the same universals in (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  27. William Kneale (1961). Universality and Necessity. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 12 (46):89-102.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (8 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  28. Kaave Lajevardi (2011). Laws and Counterfactuals: Defusing an Argument Against the Humean View of Laws. Dialogue 50 (04):751-758.
    ABSTRACT: Appealing to the failure of counterfactual support is a standard device in refuting a Humean view on laws of nature: some true generalisations do not support relevant counterfactuals; therefore not every true general fact is a law of nature—so goes the refutation. I will argue that this strategy does not work, for our understanding of the truth-value of any counterfactual is grounded in our understanding of the lawhood of some statements related to it.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  29. Marc Lange (2013). Grounding, Scientific Explanation, and Humean Laws. Philosophical Studies 164 (1):255-261.
    It has often been argued that Humean accounts of natural law cannot account for the role played by laws in scientific explanations. Loewer (Philosophical Studies 2012) has offered a new reply to this argument on behalf of Humean accounts—a reply that distinguishes between grounding (which Loewer portrays as underwriting a kind of metaphysical explanation) and scientific explanation. I will argue that Loewer’s reply fails because it cannot accommodate the relation between metaphysical and scientific explanation. This relation also resolves a puzzle (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  30. Marc Lange (2006). How to Account for the Relation Between Chancy Facts and Deterministic Laws. Mind 115 (460):917--946.
    Suppose that unobtanium-346 is a rare radioactive isotope. Consider: (1) Every Un346 atom, at its creation, decays within 7 microseconds (µs). (50%) Every Un346 atom, at its creation, has a 50% chance of decaying within 7µs. (1) and (50%) can be true together, but (1) and (50%) cannot together be laws of nature. Indeed, (50%)'s mere (non-vacuous) truth logically precludes (1)'s lawhood. A satisfactory analysis of chance and lawhood should nicely account for this relation. I shall argue first that David (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  31. David Lewis (1999). Zimmerman and the Spinning Sphere. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (2):209 – 212.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (4 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  32. David Lewis (1994). Humean Supervenience Debugged. Mind 103 (412):473-490.
    Tn this paper I explore and to an extent defend HS. The main philosophical challenges to HS come from philosophical views that say that nomic concepts-laws, chance, and causation-denote features of the world that fail to supervene on non-nomic features. Lewis rejects these views and has labored mightily to construct HS accounts of nomic concepts. His account of laws is fundamental to his program, since his accounts of the other nomic notions rely on it. Recently, a number of philosophers have (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  33. David Lewis (1986). Philosophical Papers Vol. Ii. Oxford University Press.
  34. Caroline Lierse (1996). The Jerrybuilt House of Humeanism. In. In P. Riggs (ed.), Natural Kinds, Laws of Nature and Scientific Methodology. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 29--48.
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  35. Barry Loewer, Lawsandinduction(2000).
    "I have come to think that the laws of physics are real because my experience with the laws of physics does not seem to me to be very different in any fundamental way from my experience with rocks. For those who have not lived with the laws of physics, I can offer the obvious argument that the laws of physics as we know them work, and there is no other known way of looking at nature that works in anything like (...)
    Remove from this list |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  36. Ardon Lyon (1976). The Immutable Laws of Nature. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 77:107 - 126.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  37. Elizabeth Miller (forthcoming). Humean Scientific Explanation. Philosophical Studies:1-22.
    In a recent paper, Barry Loewer attempts to defend Humeanism about laws of nature from a charge that Humean laws are not adequately explanatory. Central to his defense is a distinction between metaphysical and scientific explanations: even if Humeans cannot offer further metaphysical explanations of particular features of their “mosaic,” that does not preclude them from offering scientific explanations of these features. According to Marc Lange, however, Loewer’s distinction is of no avail. Defending a transitivity principle linking scientific explanantia to (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  38. Harold W. Noonan (2010). Bird Against the Humeans. Ratio 23 (1):73-86.
    Debate between Humean contingentists and anti-Humean necessitarians in the philosophy of science is ongoing. One of the most important contemporary anti-Humeans is Alexander Bird. Bird calls the particular version of Humeanism he is opposed to 'categoricalism'. In his paper (2005) and in Chapter 4 of his book (2007) Bird argues against categoricalism about properties and laws. His arguments against categoricalism about properties are intended to support the necessitarian position he calls dispositional monism. His arguments against categoricalism about laws are intended (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  39. Alexander Reutlinger & Marius Backmann (forthcoming). Better Best Systems - Too Good To Be True. Dialectica.
    Craig Callender, Jonathan Cohen and Markus Schrenk have recently argued for an amended version of the best system account of laws – the better best system account (BBSA). This account of lawhood is supposed to account for laws in the special sciences, among other desiderata. Unlike David Lewis’s original best system account of laws, the BBSA does not rely on a privileged class of natural predicates, in terms of which the best system is formulated. According to the BBSA, a contingently (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  40. John Roberts, Contact with the Nomic: A Challenge for Deniers of Humean Supervenience About Laws of Nature.
    This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easily to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of the Humean base (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (2 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  41. John T. Roberts (2005). Measurability and Physical Laws. Synthese 144 (3):433Ð447.
    I propose and motivate a new account of fundamental physical laws, the Measurability Account of Laws (MAL). This account has a distinctive logical form, in that it takes the primary nomological concept to be that of a law relative to a given theory, and defines a law simpliciter as a law relative to some true theory. What makes a proposition a law relative to a theory is that it plays an indispensable role in demonstrating that some quantity posited by that (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  42. Denis Robinson (1989). Matter, Motion, and Humean Supervenience. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 67 (4):394 – 409.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (6 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  43. Chester T. Ruddick (1949). Hume on Scientific Law. Philosophy of Science 16 (2):89-93.
  44. Howard Sankey (ed.) (1999). Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer.
    Because the book represents a good cross-section of authors currently working on these themes in the Australasian region, it conveys something of the interest ...
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  45. Erhard Scheibe (1991). General Laws of Nature and the Uniqueness of the Universe. In Evandro Agazzi & Alberto Cordero (eds.), Philosophy and the Origin and Evolution of the Universe. Kluwer Academic Publishers. 341--360.
    It seems a generally acknowledged view that physics is confined to the investigation of events that can be reproduced. “The natural scientist — says Pauli1 — is concerned with a particular kind of phenomena … he has to confine himself to that which is reproducible… I do not claim that the reproducible by itself is more important than the unique. But I do claim that the unique exceeds the treatment by scientific method. Indeed it is the aim of this method (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  46. Susan Schneider (2007). What is the Significance of the Intuition That Laws of Nature Govern? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):307 – 324.
    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. (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download (5 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  47. Susan Schneider (2001). Alien Individuals, Alien Universals, and Armstrong's Combinatorial Theory of Possibility. Southern Journal of Philosophy 39 (4):575-593.
    Armstrong's combinatorialism, in his own words, is the following project: "My central metaphysical hypothesis is that all there is is the world of space and time. It is this world which is to supply the actual elements for the totality of combinations. So what is proposed is a Naturalistic form of a combinatorial theory."2 Armstrong calls his central hypothesis "Naturalism." He intends his well−known theory of universals to satisfy this thesis. He now attempts to give a naturalistic theory of modality.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (7 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  48. Aaron Segal (forthcoming). Half-Hearted Humeanism. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
    Many contemporary philosophers endorse the Humean-Lewisian Denial of Absolutely Necessary Connections (‘DANC’). Among those philosophers, many deny all or part of the Humean-Lewisian package of views about causation and laws. I argue that they maintain an inconsistent set of views. DANC entails that (1) causal properties and relations are, with a few possible exceptions, always extrinsic to their bearers, (2) nomic properties and relations are, with a few possible exceptions, always extrinsic to their bearers, and (3) causal and nomic properties (...)
    Remove from this list |
    Translate to English
    |
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  49. Demetra Sfendoni-Mentzou (1994). Laws of Nature: Ante Res or in Rebus? International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 8 (3):229 – 242.
    Remove from this list | Direct download (3 more)  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
  50. Brendan Shea (2011). Concepts of Law of Nature. Dissertation, University of Illinois
    Over the past 50 years, there has been a great deal of philosophical interest in laws of nature, perhaps because of the essential role that laws play in the formulation of, and proposed solutions to, a number of perennial philosophical problems. For example, many have thought that a satisfactory account of laws could be used to resolve thorny issues concerning explanation, causation, free-will, probability, and counterfactual truth. Moreover, interest in laws of nature is not constrained to metaphysics or philosophy of (...)
    Remove from this list | Direct download  
     
    My bibliography  
     
    Export citation  
1 — 50 / 77