David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophy of Science 65 (2):349-360 (1998)
August 16, 1997 David Lewis2 has long defended an account of scientific law acceptable even to an empiricist with significant metaphysical scruples. On this account, the laws are defined to be the consequences of the best system for axiomitizing all occurrent fact. Here "best system" means the set of sentences which yields the best combination of strength of descriptive content 3 with simplicity of exposition. And occurrent facts, the facts to be systematized, are roughly the particular facts about a localized space-time region that are non-modal, non-dispositional, and non-causal. Scientists providing or attempting to provide laws are plausibly seen as giving general principles that unify a body of data. Thus they organize or systematize the arrangement of occurrences. For this reason, Lewis's account has the important merits of providing contact with actual scientific practice while making sense of the standard philosophical conception that laws should be general but more than mere accidental generalizations. However, Lewis has long known about a potential problem with this account, a problem involving chance and credence.4 In a recent series of articles he, Michael Thau, and Ned Hall have developed a new formulation of the relationship between chance and credence which solves the problem. However, I will argue that these articles leave untouched and even exacerbate a closely related and more fundamental problem with the best system account, the problem of nomic necessity. Laws are supposed to be more than true; in some sense they must be true. Yet a principle's membership in the best systematization for one world seems to say nothing about its necessity, i.e., its truth at other worlds. I close by briefly describing how an alternative empiricist account may remove both problems
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Rachael Briggs (2009). The Big Bad Bug Bites Anti-Realists About Chance. Synthese 167 (1):81--92.
Similar books and articles
Barry Loewer (2004). David Lewis's Humean Theory of Objective Chance. Philosophy of Science 71 (5):1115--25.
Lydia Jaeger (2002). Humean Supervenience and Best-System Laws. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (2):141 – 155.
D. H. Mellor (1990). Laws, Chances and Properties. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 4 (2):159 – 170.
Carl Hoefer (2007). The Third Way on Objective Probability: A Sceptic's Guide to Objective Chance. Mind 116 (463):549-596.
Marc Lange (2006). How to Account for the Relation Between Chancy Facts and Deterministic Laws. Mind 115 (460):917--946.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads79 ( #18,741 of 1,102,037 )
Recent downloads (6 months)23 ( #8,832 of 1,102,037 )
How can I increase my downloads?