David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophical Quarterly 54 (216):402–419 (2004)
Necessitarian accounts of the laws of nature have an apparent difficulty in accounting for counterlegal conditionals because, despite appearing to be substantive, on the necessitarian thesis they are vacuous. I argue that the necessitarian may explain the apparently substantive content of such conditionals by pointing out the presuppositions of counterlegal discourse. The typical presupposition is that a certain conceptual possibility has been realized; namely, that necessitarianism is false. (The idea of conceptual possibility is explicated in terms of recent work in two-dimensional modal semantics.) If this sort of presupposition is made explicit in counterlegal utterances, we obtain a sentence such as: 'If it turns out that the laws of nature are contingent, then if the laws had been otherwise, then such and such would have been the case.' Sentences of this type are non-vacuous, and very often true. I argue that this goes a long way towards resolving the difficulty for necessitarianism.
|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
David Malet Armstrong (1999). The Causal Theory of Properties: Properties According to Shoemaker, Ellis, and Others. Philosophical Topics 26 (1/2):25-37.
John Bigelow & Robert Pargetter (1990). Science and Necessity. Cambridge University Press.
Martin Davies & Lloyd Humberstone (1980). Two Notions of Necessity. Philosophical Studies 38 (1):1-31.
B. D. Ellis (2001). Scientific Essentialism. Cambridge University Press.
Tamar Szabó Gendler & John Hawthorne (eds.) (2002). Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Daniel Z. Korman (2005). Law Necessitarianism and the Importance of Being Intuitive. Philosophical Quarterly 55 (221):649–657.
Toby Handfield (2005). Lange on Essentialism, Counterfactuals, and Explanation. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (1):81 – 85.
Similar books and articles
Remmel T. Nunn (1979). I. Psychologism, Functionalism, and the Modal Status of Logical Laws. Inquiry 22 (1-4):343-349.
Stephen Barker (2011). Can Counterfactuals Really Be About Possible Worlds? Noûs 45 (3):557-576.
Mehmet Elgin (2003). Biology and A Priori Laws. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1380-1389.
Gerhard Schurz (2002). Ceteris Paribus Laws: Classification and Deconstruction. [REVIEW] Erkenntnis 57 (3):351Ð372.
Norman Swartz (1985). The Concept of Physical Law. Cambridge University Press.
Norman Swartz, Laws of Nature. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
John Roberts (2010). Some Laws of Nature Are Metaphysically Contingent. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 88 (3):445-457.
Simon Bostock (2003). Are All Possible Laws Actual Laws? Australasian Journal of Philosophy 81 (4):517 – 533.
Alexander Bird (2004). Strong Necessitarianism: The Nomological Identity of Possible Worlds. Ratio 17 (3):256–276.
Toby Handfield (2001). Dispositional Essentialism and the Possibility of a Law-Abiding Miracle. Philosophical Quarterly 51 (205):484-494.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads98 ( #18,198 of 1,696,808 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #96,298 of 1,696,808 )
How can I increase my downloads?