David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 65 (1):121-135 (1998)
Laws are supposed to tell us how physical systems actually behave. The analysis of an important part of physical practice--abstraction--shows, however, that laws describe the behavior of physical systems under very special circumstances, namely when they are isolated. Nevertheless, laws are applied in cases of non-isolation as well. This practice requires an explanation. It is argued that one has to assume that physical systems have dispositions. I take these to be innocuous from an empiricist's standpoint because they can--at least in principle--be measured. Laws can be applied whenever such a disposition is present, they describe how the physical system would behave if the disposition were manifest.
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Andreas Hüttemann (2014). Ceteris Paribus Laws in Physics. Erkenntnis 79 (10):1715-1728.
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Marius Backmann & Alexander Reutlinger (2014). Better Best Systems – Too Good To Be True. Dialectica 68 (3):375-390.
Markus Schrenk (2010). The Powerlessness of Necessity. Noûs 44 (4):725-739.
Alexander Reutlinger & Matthias Unterhuber (2014). Thinking About Non-Universal Laws. Erkenntnis 79 (10):1703-1713.
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