David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 70 (1):57-67 (2003)
Nancy Cartwright's charge against horizontal reductionism leads to a claim about how the world is, namely "dappled." By proposing a simple thought-experiment, I show that Cartwright's division of the world into "nomological" machines and "messy" systems for which no law applies is meaningless. The thought-experiment shows that for a system, having the property of being a nomological machine depends on what kind of questions you ask about it. No metaphysical conclusion about the world being unruly or not can be drawn from a division that is question-dependent. Moreover, I argue that this predicament undermines Cartwright's attempt to provide an illustration of how bad metaphysics of science translates into bad scientific methodologies and policies.
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