On the metaphysical contingency of laws of nature
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In John Hawthorne & Tamar Gendler (eds.), Conceivability and Possibility. Oxford University Press. 309--336 (2002)
This paper defends the traditional view that the laws of nature are contingent, or, if some of them are necessary, this is due to analytic principles for the individuation of the law-governed properties. Fundamentally, I argue that the supposed explanatory purposes served by taking the laws to be necessary (at least, understood metaphysically, as opposed to semantically)--showing how laws support counterfactuals, how properties are individuated, or how we have knowledge of properties--are in fact undermined by the continued possibility of the imagined scenarios--this time, described neutrally--which seemed to disprove the claim to necessity in the first place. I speculate that this will be true for any proposed necessary a posteriori truths, and is a basis for rejecting their supposed metaphysical significance.
|Keywords||Contingency, Metaphysics, Natural Law|
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