Graduate studies at Western
Mind 115 (460):917--946 (2006)
|Abstract||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 Lewis's Humean picture accounts for this relation only by inserting this relation ‘by hand’. Next, I shall argue that this relation between law and chance also threatens a radically non-Humean picture of laws and chances. Finally, I shall offer an account of natural law that nicely explains the relation between chancy facts and deterministic laws. This explanation is not ad hoc because it derives the relation from the very same features of lawhood that account for the laws' special relation to counterfactuals and explain how the laws (unlike the accidents) possess a variety of necessity. The reason that a chancy fact such as (50%) keeps (1) from being a law, without keeping (1) from being true, is ultimately that a chancy fact constrains the subjunctive facts and (1)'s lawhood, unlike (1)'s truth, depends upon the subjunctive facts.|
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