David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
The issue of whether there are laws in biology and the “special science”1 has been of interest owing to the debate about whether scientific explanation requires laws. A well-warn argument goes thus: no laws in social science, no explanations, or at least no scientific explanations, at most explanation-sketches. The conclusion is not just a matter of labeling. If explanations are not scientific they are not epistemically or practically reliable. There are at least three well-known diagnoses of where this argument goes wrong. First, the argument that there are no laws in social science adopts an account of laws that is too stringent, one that not even the physical sciences satisfy (Cartwright 1983, Mitchell 2000). On a less stringent definition, there are plenty of laws in social science (and biology). These laws are, sensu Fodor, “non-strict,” as opposed to the “strict laws” (if any—vide Cartwright 1983) of physics. Second, scientific explanation does not require laws, and when laws do explain, they do so because they satisfy some other requirement on scientific explanation, for example unification, or the identification of causal difference-makers (Friedman 1974, Kitcher 1989, Salmon 1984, Strevens 2009). A third view, increasingly attractive among philosophers of social science and biology is due to James Woodward (2000, 2003). This view, like the second one eschews laws and identifies causes as difference makers. On this view explanations do require regularities, but these regularities need only satisfy a requirement of “invariance” under certain specified circumstances, in order to be explanatory, and..
|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
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Harold Kincaid (1990). Defending Laws in the Social Sciences. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 20 (1):56?83.
Igor Hanzel (2008). Idealizations and Concretizations in Laws and Explanations in Physics. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 39 (2):273 - 301.
Mehmet Elgin (2003). Biology and A Priori Laws. Philosophy of Science 70 (5):1380-1389.
Alex Rosenberg (2001). How is Biological Explanation Possible? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (4):735-760.
Marc Lange (2000). Natural Laws in Scientific Practice. Oxford University Press.
Jim Woodward (2001). Law and Explanation in Biology: Invariance is the Kind of Stability That Matters. Philosophy of Science 68 (1):1-20.
Andrew Hamilton (2007). Laws of Biology, Laws of Nature: Problems and (Dis)Solutions. Philosophy Compass 2 (3):592–610.
Holly Andersen (2011). Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities. Philosophy of Science 78 (2):325-331.
Lee C. McIntyre (2000). Reduction, Supervenience, and the Autonomy of Social Scientific Laws. Theory and Decision 48 (2):101-122.
Added to index2009-02-19
Total downloads160 ( #6,424 of 1,692,221 )
Recent downloads (6 months)22 ( #9,046 of 1,692,221 )
How can I increase my downloads?