Laws and their stability

Synthese 144 (3):415Ð432 (2005)
Many philosophers have believed that the laws of nature differ from the accidental truths in their invariance under counterfactual perturbations. Roughly speaking, the laws would still have held had q been the case, for any q that is consistent with the laws. (Trivially, no accident would still have held under every such counterfactual supposition.) The main problem with this slogan (even if it is true) is that it uses the laws themselves to delimit qs range. I present a means of distinguishing the laws (and their logical consequences) from the accidents, in terms of their range of invariance under counterfactual antecedents, that does not appeal to physical modalities (or any cognate notion) in delimiting the relevant range of counterfactual perturbations. I then argue that this approach explicates the sense in which the laws possess a kind of necessity.
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy   Epistemology   Logic   Metaphysics   Philosophy of Language
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Citations of this work BETA
Marc Lange (2007). Laws and Meta-Laws of Nature: Conservation Laws and Symmetries. Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 38 (3):457-481.
Marc Lange (2006). Farewell to Laws of Nature? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 37 (2):361-369.
Marc Lange (2009). Must the Fundamental Laws of Physics Be Complete? Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):312-345.

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