Laws and criteria

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 32 (4):511-42 (2002)
Debates concerning the analysis of the concept of law of nature must address the following problem. On the one hand, our grasp of laws of nature is via our knowledge of their instances. And this seems not only an epistemological truth but also a semantic one. The concept of a law of nature must be explicated in terms of the things that instantiate the law. It is not simply that a piece of metal that conducts electricity is evidence for a law that metals conduct electricity. It is also the case that to explicate what it is for there to be such a law requires, and requires little more than, alluding to the fact that the piece of metal conducting electricity is an instance of that law. This is the driving intuition behind regularity theories of laws — to understand the concept ‘law,’ as in ‘it is a law that metals conduct electricity’ one need only understand little more than what it is for something to be a metal and to conduct electricity and the concept of universal generalization. On this view a law just is a regularity (or some kind of regularity) among its instances.
Keywords laws
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/00455091.2002.10716529
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 23,651
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
David Papineau (1996). Theory-Dependent Terms. Philosophy of Science 63 (1):1-20.
John L. Pollock (1984). Nomic Probability. Midwest Studies in Philosophy 9 (1):177-204.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

169 ( #24,257 of 1,902,527 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

21 ( #27,570 of 1,902,527 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.