Natural laws and the problem of provisos

Erkenntnis 38 (2):233Ð248 (1993)
Abstract
Hempel and Giere contend that the existence of provisos poses grave difficulties for any regularity account of physical law. However, Hempel and Giere rely upon a mistaken conception of the way in which statements acquire their content. By correcting this mistake, I remove the problem Hempel and Giere identify but reveal a different problem that provisos pose for a regularity account — indeed, for any account of physical law according to which the state of affairs described by a law-statement presupposes a Humean regularity. These considerations suggest a normative analysis of law-statements. On this view, law-statements are not distinguished from accidental generalizations by the kind of Humean regularities they describe because a law-statement need not describe any Humean regularity. Rather, a law-statement says that in certain contexts, one ought to regard the assertion of a given type of claim, if made with justification, as a proper way to justify a claim of a certain other kind.
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Citations of this work BETA
Alexander Reutlinger (2011). A Theory of Non-Universal Laws. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 25 (2):97 - 117.
Christopher H. Eliot (2011). Hempel's Provisos and Ceteris Paribus Clauses. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 42 (2):207-218.
Jani Raerinne (2013). Stability and Lawlikeness. Biology and Philosophy 28 (5):833-851.
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