The question of whether there are laws in ecology is important for a number of reasons. If, as some have suggested, there are no ecological laws, this would seem to distinguish ecology from other branches of science, such as physics. It could also make a difference to the methodology of ecology. If there are no laws to be discovered, ecologists would seem to be in the business of merely supplying a suite of useful models. These models would (...) need to be assessed for their empirical adequacy but not for their ability to capture fundamental truths, or the like. If, on the other hand, ecology does have laws, this prompts further questions about what these laws are and why even the best candidates for ecological laws fall short of what might be expected of laws. (shrink)
An influential position in the philosophy of biology claims that there are no biological laws, since any apparently biological generalization is either too accidental, fact-like or contingent to be named a law, or is simply reducible to physical laws that regulate electrical and chemical interactions taking place between merely physical systems. In the following I will stress a neglected aspect of the debate that emerges directly from the growing importance of mathematical models of biological phenomena. My main aim (...) is to defend, as well as reinforce, the view that there are indeed laws also in biology, and that their difference in stability, contingency or resilience with respect to physical laws is one of degrees, and not of kind . (shrink)
There is an important moral difference between laws that criminalize drugs and prostitution and laws that make them illegal in other ways: criminalization violates our moral rights in a way that nonlegalization does not. Criminalization is defined as follows. Drugs are criminalized when there are criminal penalties for using or possessing small quantities of drugs. Prostitution is criminalized when there are criminal penalties for selling sex. Legalization is defined as follows. Drugs are legalized when there are no criminal (...) penalties for manufacturing, selling and possessing large quantities of drugs. Prostitution is legalized when there are no criminal penalties for owning or operating a brothel or escort service, no criminal penalties for working as a paid agent for sex work, and no criminal penalties for paying someone for sex who is above the age of legal employment and sexual consent. The criminalization of drugs and prostitution violate the right of self-sovereignty in depriving individuals of important forms of control over their own minds and bodies, but nonlegalization does not violate this right. It is therefore consistent, as a matter of principle, to advocate decriminalization but to oppose legalization. (shrink)
Alexander Bird argues that David Armstrong’s necessitarian conception of physical modality and laws of nature generates a vicious regress with respect to necessitation. We show that precisely the same regress afflicts Bird’s dispositional-monist theory, and indeed, related views, such as that of Mumford and Anjum. We argue that dispositional monism is basically Armstrongian necessitarianism modified to allow for a thesis about property identity.
It is a traditional empiricist doctrine that natural laws are universal truths. In order to overcome the obvious difficulties with this equation most empiricists qualify it by proposing to equate laws with universal truths that play a certain role, or have a certain function, within the larger scientific enterprise. This view is examined in detail and rejected; it fails to account for a variety of features that laws are acknowledged to have. An alternative view is advanced in (...) which laws are expressed by singular statements of fact describing the relationship between universal properties and magnitudes. (shrink)
That laws of nature play a vital role in explanation, prediction, and inductive inference is far clearer than the nature of the laws themselves. My hope here is to shed some light on the nature of natural laws by developing and defending the view that they involve genuine relations between properties. Such a position is suggested by Plato, and more recent versions have been sketched by several writers.~ But I am not happy with any of these accounts, (...) not so much because they lack detail or engender minor difficulties, though they do, but because they share a quite fundamental defect. My goal here is to make this defect clear and, more importantly, to present a rather different version of this general conception of laws that avoids it. I begin by considering several features of natural laws and argue that these are best explained by the view that laws involve properties, that this involvement takes the form of a genuine relation between properties, and, finally, that the relation is a metaphysically necessary one. In the second section I start at the other end, and by reflecting on the nature of properties arrive at a similar account of natural laws. In the final section I develop this account in more detail, with emphasis on the nature of the relation between properties it invokes. Along the way several natural objections to the account are answered. (shrink)
We argue that the inference from dispositional essentialism about a property (in the broadest sense) to the metaphysical necessity of laws involving it is invalid. Let strict dispositional essentialism be any view according to which any given property’s dispositional character is precisely the same across all possible worlds. Clearly, any version of strict dispositional essentialism rules out worlds with different laws involving that property. Permissive dispositional essentialism is committed to a property’s identity being tied to its dispositional profile (...) or causal role, yet is compatible with moderate interworld variation in a property’s dispositional profile. We provide such a model of dispositional essentialism about a property and metaphysical contingency of the laws involving it. (shrink)
Recently several thought experiments have been developed (by John Carroll amongst others) which have been alleged to refute the Ramsey-Lewis view of laws of nature. The paper aims to show that two such thought experiments fail to establish that the Ramsey-Lewis view is false, since they presuppose a conception of laws of nature that is radically at odds with the Humean conception of laws embodied by the Ramsey-Lewis view. In particular, the thought experiments presuppose that laws (...) of nature govern the behavior of objects. The paper argues that the claim that laws govern should not be regarded as a conceptual truth, and shows how the governing conception of laws manifests itself in the thought experiments. Hence the thought experiments do not constitute genuine counter-examples to the Ramsey-Lewis view, since the Humean is free to reject the conception of laws which the thought experiments presuppose. (shrink)
Many philosophers of science think that most laws of nature (even those of fundamental physics) are so called ceteris paribus laws, i.e., roughly speaking, laws with exceptions. Yet, the ceteris paribus clause of these laws is problematic. Amongst the more infamous difficulties is the danger that 'For all x: Fx ⊃ Gx, ceteris paribus' may state no more than a tautology: 'For all x: Fx ⊃ Gx, unless not'. One of the major attempts to avoid this (...) problem (and others concerning ceteris paribus laws) is to claim that the subject matter of laws are ascriptions of dispositions, powers, capacities etc., and not the regular behaviour we find in nature. That we do not know whether the cetera are paria in a specific situation does not matter to the dispositionalist because the objects have the disposition regardless of the circumstances. The defence of the latter claim is that dispositions can be instantiated without being manifested. Hence, the laws that ascribe dispositions are strict and it looks as if they do not face the above mentioned problems of ceteris paribus laws. In this essay I attempt to show that these assumptions are wrong. I hope to illustrate that not only does the ceteris paribus clause reoccur inside the dispositions, moreover, there are laws—laws about non-fundamental entities with instable dispositions—which bear a ceteris paribus clause that cannot be hidden in a disposition. (shrink)
It has often been argued that Humean accounts of natural law cannot account for the role played by laws in scientific explanations. Loewer (Philosophical Studies 2012) has offered a new reply to this argument on behalf of Humean accounts—a reply that distinguishes between grounding (which Loewer portrays as underwriting a kind of metaphysical explanation) and scientific explanation. I will argue that Loewer’s reply fails because it cannot accommodate the relation between metaphysical and scientific explanation. This relation also resolves a (...) puzzle about scientific explanation that Hempel and Oppenheim (Philosophy of Science 15:135–75, 1948) encountered. (shrink)
Those who favour an ontology based on dispositions are thereby able to provide a dispositional essentialist account of the laws of nature. In part 1 of this paper I sketch the dispositional essentialist conception of properties and the concomitant account of laws. In part 2, I characterise various claims about the modal character of properties that fall under the heading ‘quidditism’ and which are consequences of the categoricalist view of properties, which is the alternative to the dispositional essentialist (...) view. I argue that quidditism should be rejected. In part 3, I address a criticism of a strong dispositional essentialist view, viz. that ‘structural’ (i.e. geometrical, numerical, spatial and temporal) properties must be regarded as categorical. (shrink)
I show that Armstrong’s view of laws as second-order contingent relations of ‘necessitation’ among categorical properties faces a dilemma. The necessitation relation confers a relation of extensional inclusion (‘constant conjunction’) on its relata. It does so either necessarily or contingently. If necessarily, it is not a categorical relation (in the relevant sense). If contingently, then an explanation is required of how it confers extensional inclusion. That explanation will need to appeal to a third-order relation between necessitation and extensional inclusion. (...) The same dilemma reappears at this level. Either Armstrong must concede that some properties are not categorical but have essential powers – or he is faced with a regress. (shrink)
The existence of natural laws, whether deterministic or indeterministic, and whether exceptionless or ceteris paribus, seems puzzling because it implies that mindless bits of matter behave in a consistent and co-ordinated way. I explain this puzzle by showing that a number of attempted solutions fail. The puzzle could be resolved if it were assumed that natural laws are a manifestation of God’s activity. This argument from natural law to God’s existence differs from its traditional counterparts in that, whereas (...) the latter seek to explain the fact of natural laws, the former seeks to explain their possibility . The customary objections to the traditional arguments cannot be successfully adapted to counter this new argument, with one exception which has only limited effect. I rebut four claims that the theistic solution to the puzzle about natural laws is paradoxical, though I concede that one of these claims has merit. I consider four objections to the new argument but find three of them more or less unsatisfactory. The fourth, if successful, would undermine our claims to know the truth about the world. (shrink)
This paper explores whether it is possible to reformulate or re-interpret Lewis’s theory of fundamental laws of nature—his “best system analysis”—in such a way that it becomes a useful theory for special science laws. One major step in this enterprise is to make plausible how law candidates within best system competitions can tolerate exceptions—this is crucial because we expect special science laws to be so called “ceteris paribus laws”. I attempt to show how this is possible (...) and also how we can thereby make the first step towards a solution for the infamous difficulties surrounding the troublesome ceteris paribus clause. The paper outlines the general ideas of the theory but also points out some of its difficulties and background assumptions. (shrink)
In 'Quiddistic Knowledge' (Schaffer ), Jonathan Schaffer argued influentially against the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. In this reply I aim to show how a coherent and well-motivated form of necessitarianism can withstand his critique. Modal necessitarianism -- the view that the actual laws are the laws of all possible worlds -- can do justice to some intuitive motivations for necessitarianism, and it has the resources to respond to all of Schaffer's objections. It (...) also has certain advantages over contingentism in the domain of modal epistemology. I conclude that necessitarianism about laws remains a live option. (shrink)
Debates concerning the analysis of the concept of law of nature must address the following problem. On the one hand, our grasp of laws of nature is via our knowledge of their instances. And this seems not only an epistemological truth but also a semantic one. The concept of a law of nature must be explicated in terms of the things that instantiate the law. It is not simply that a piece of metal that conducts electricity is evidence for (...) a law that metals conduct electricity. It is also the case that to explicate what it is for there to be such a law requires, and requires little more than, alluding to the fact that the piece of metal conducting electricity is an instance of that law. This is the driving intuition behind regularity theories of laws — to understand the concept ‘law,’ as in ‘it is a law that metals conduct electricity’ one need only understand little more than what it is for something to be a metal and to conduct electricity and the concept of universal generalization. On this view a law just is a regularity (or some kind of regularity) among its instances. (shrink)
A common view is that ceteris paribus clauses render lawlike statements vacuous, unless such clauses can be explicitly reformulated as antecedents of ?real? laws that face no counterinstances. But such reformulations are rare; and they are not, we argue, to be expected in general. So we defend an alternative sufficient condition for the non-vacuity of ceteris paribus laws: roughly, any counterinstance of the law must be independently explicable, in a sense we make explicit. Ceteris paribus laws will (...) carry a plethora of explanatory commitments; and claims that such commitments are satisfied will be as (dis) confirmable as other empirical claims. (shrink)
In this paper, I want to explore the question of whether or not there are laws in psychology. Jaegwon Kim has argued (Supervenience and mind. MIT press, Cambridge; 1993; Mind in a physical world. MIT press, Cambridge 1998) that there are no laws in psychology that contain reference to multiply realized kinds, because statements about such kinds fail to be projectible. After reviewing Kim’s argument for this claim, I show how his conclusion hinges on a hidden assumption: that (...) a kind can only feature in a projectible statement if it is defined by an internal physical property. This assumption, however, is false: constrained kinds can feature in projectible statements, and yet they are not defined by any set of internal physical properties. I suggest that many mental terms actually refer to constrained kinds, and give an example from motor neuroscience of a constrained kind that is multiply realizable and “projectible”: the intention to move voluntarily in a specific direction. (shrink)
It is a commonplace that one of the primary tasks of natural science is to discover the laws of nature. Those who don’t think that nature has laws will of course disagree; but of those who do, most will be in accord with Armstrong when he writes that natural science, having discovered the kinds and properties of things, should “state the laws” which those things “obey” (Armstrong What is a law 3). No Scholastic philosopher would have included (...) the discovery of the laws of nature among the aims of natural philosophy. Regularities there may be in an Aristotelian world, but the focus of inquiry is elsewhere —on natural kinds, powers, qualities, temperaments. There must have been a change of view at some point. The obvious period in which to look for that change is that period in which the notion of law came to the fore in natural philosophy: the seventeenth century. Though there has been occasional dissension, that notion has been with us ever since. Scientists are quite happy to talk about all sorts of laws, from the basic laws of conservation to “phenomenological” and statistical laws. Philosophers, on the other hand, have found them puzzling. The character attributed to laws seems to be in need of explanation, and yet no convincing explanation is at hand; indeed, as I have mentioned, some philosophers think that natural science has no laws, or at least that it doesn’t need to appeal to them to accomplish its ends. My suggestion will be that the configuration of features characteristic.. (shrink)
This paper argues that Twin Earth twins belong to the same psychological natural kind, but that the reason for this is not that the causal powers of mental states supervene on local neural structure. Fodor’s argument for this latter thesis is criticized and found to rest on a confusion between it and the claim that Putnamian and Burgean type relational psychological properties do not affect the causal powers of the mental states that have them. While it is true that Putnamian (...) and Burgean type relational psychological properties do not affect causal powers, it is false that no relational psychological properties do. Examples of relational psychological properties that do affect causal powers are given and psychological laws are sketched that subsume twins in virtue of them instantiating these relational properties rather than them sharing the narrow contents of their thoughts. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: Appealing to the failure of counterfactual support is a standard device in refuting a Humean view on laws of nature: some true generalisations do not support relevant counterfactuals; therefore not every true general fact is a law of nature—so goes the refutation. I will argue that this strategy does not work, for our understanding of the truth-value of any counterfactual is grounded in our understanding of the lawhood of some statements related to it.
In 'Necessarily, salt dissolves in water' (Analysis 61 (2001)), I argued that because the laws required for the existence of salt entail the laws that ensure dissolving in water, there is no possible world in which salt exists but fails to dissolve in water. In this paper I respond to criticisms from Helen Beebee and Stathis Psillos (Analysis 62 (2002)). I also introduce the 'down-and-up' structure, generalising the case. Whether or not this structure is instantiated is a matter (...) for a posteriori discovery. Hence not only are some laws necessary (but known a posteriori), but furthermore whether a given law is necessary or contingent will also be a matter of a posteriori discovery. (shrink)
In this paper I analyze the difficult question of the truth of mature scientific theories by tackling the problem of the truth of laws. After introducing the main philosophical positions in the field of scientific realism, I discuss and then counter the two main arguments against realism, namely the pessimistic metainduction and the abstract and idealized character of scientific laws. I conclude by defending the view that well-confirmed physical theories are true only relatively to certain values of the (...) variables that appear in the laws. (shrink)
The characteristic difference between laws and accidental generalizations lies in our epistemic or inductive attitude towards them. This idea has taken various forms and dominated the discussion about lawlikeness in the last decades. Likewise, the issue about ceteris paribus conditions is essentially about how we epistemically deal with exceptions. Hence, ranking theory with its resources of defeasible reasoning seems ideally suited to explicate these points in a formal way. This is what the paper attempts to do. Thus it will (...) turn out that a law is simply the deterministic analogue of a sequence of independent, identically distributed random variables. This entails that de Finetti's representation theorems can be directly transformed into an account of confirmation of laws thus conceived. (shrink)
This paper proposes a revision of our understanding of causation that is designed to address what Hartry Field has suggested is the central problem in the metaphysics of causation today: reconciling Bertrand Russell’s arguments that the concept of causation can play no role in the advanced sciences with Nancy Cartwright’s arguments that causal concepts are essential to a scientific understanding of the world. The paper shows that Russell’s main argument is, ironically, very similar to an argument that Cartwright has put (...) forward against the truth of universal laws of nature. The paper uses this insight to develop an account of causation that does justice to traditional views yet avoids the arguments of Russell. (shrink)
In this essay I enter into a recently published debate between Stephen Schiffer and Jerry Fodor concerning whether adequate sense can be made of the ceteris paribus conditions in special science laws, much of their focus being on the case of putative psychological laws. Schiffer argues that adequate sense cannot be made of ceteris paribus clauses, while Fodor attempts to overcome Schiffer's arguments, in defense of special science laws. More recently, Peter Mott has attempted to show that (...) Fodor's response to Schiffer fails, and furthermore that further study shows that the logical framework in which Schiffer and Fodor address their issue is susceptible to inconsistency.In this essay I argue that adequate sense can be made of ceteris paribus conditions. Against Mott, I argue that recent work in the model theory of non-monotonic logic indicates how his problem involving logical inconsistencies can be overcome. Against Schiffer, I argue that the claims that he makes against ceteris paribus clauses would lead to a fatal skepticism concerning indefinitely many of the claims we make about the world (and indeed that his claims would be destructive of the view of the special sciences that Schiffer himself presents in his paper), and that the semantical considerations from non-monotonic logic that I present provide a suitable framework for dealing with his complaints. Thus I come out on the whole on Fodor's side of this debate, although for my own reasons, as I argue against much of Fodor's own argumentation. (shrink)
Standard objections to the notion of a hedged, or ceteris paribus, law of nature usually boil down to the claim that such laws would be either 1) irredeemably vague, 2) untestable, 3) vacuous, 4) false, or a combination thereof. Using epidemiological studies in nutrition science as an example, I show that this is not true of the hedged law-like generalizations derived from data models used to interpret large and varied sets of empirical observations. Although it may be ‘in principle (...) impossible’ to construct models that explicitly identify all potential causal interferers with the relevant generalization, the view that our failure to do so is fatal to the very notion of a cp-law is plausible only if one illicitly infers metaphysical impossibility from epistemic impossibility. I close with the suggestion that a model-theoretic approach to cp-laws poses a problem for recent attempts to formulate a Mill-Ramsey-Lewis theory of cp-laws. (shrink)
John McDowell claims that the propositional attitudes, and our conceptual abilities in general, are not appropriate topics for inquiry of the sort that is done in natural science. He characterizes the natural sciences as making phenomena intelligible in terms of their place in the realm of laws of nature. He claims that this way of making phenomena intelligible contrasts crucially with essential features of our understanding of propositional attitudes and conceptual abilities. In this article I show that scientific work (...) of the sort McDowell claims cannot be done is in fact being done, and that this work presents strong evidence that there are psychological laws. The research I discuss is that by the psychologist Norman H. Anderson and his colleagues. I also argue that the considerations McDowell presents in defense of his claims do not constitute a significant challenge to the research that Anderson and his colleagues have done. It will be noted in the article that Anderson's work is relevant not just to McDowell's writings, but also to several much discussed issues in philosophy of cognitive science: the above two issues of whether there can be a science of ordinary psychological phenomena, higher cognition, comparable to that of the natural sciences and whether such a science would present laws, and also the issue of whether in such a science, and its laws, notions of folk psychology would play crucial constitutive roles. Anderson's work presents strong grounds for affirmative answers to all of these questions. (shrink)
The paper discusses Ted Honderich's ?Hypothesis of Psychoneural Correlation?, one of the three fundamental ?hypotheses? of his Theory of Determinism. This doctrine holds that there is a pervasive system of psychoneural laws connecting every mental event with a neural correlate. Various questions are raised and discussed concerning the formulation of the thesis, Honderich's concepts of ?mental? and ?physical?, and the possible grounds for accepting the thesis. Finally, Honderich's response to Donald Davidson's well?known arguments for psychophysical anomalism is discussed.
John Earman and John T. Roberts advocate a challenging and radical claim regarding the semantics of laws in the special sciences: the statistical account. According to this account, a typical special science law “asserts a certain precisely defined statistical relation among well-defined variables” (Earman and Roberts 1999) and this statistical relation does not require being hedged by ceteris paribus conditions. In this paper, we raise two objections against the attempt to cash out the content of special science generalizations in (...) statistical terms. (shrink)
, Pietroski and Rey () suggested a reconstruction of ceteris paribus (CP)-laws, which — as they claim — saves CP-laws from vacuity. This discussion note is intended to show that, although Pietroski and Rey's reconstruction is an improvement in comparison to previous suggestions, it cannot avoid the result that CP-laws are almost vacuous. It is proved that if Cx is an arbitrary (nomological) event-type which has independently identifiable deterministic causes, then for every other (nomological) event-type Ax which (...) is not strictly connected with Cx or with ¬Cx, ‘CP if Ax then Cx’ satisfies the conditions of Pietroski and Rey for CP-laws. It is also shown that Pietroski and Rey's reconstruction presupposes the assumption of determinism. The conclusion points towards some alternatives to Piectroski and Rey's reconstruction. (shrink)
Terence Horgan and John Tienson claim that folk psychological laws are different in kind from basic physical laws in at least two ways: first, physical laws do not possess the kind of ceteris paribus qualifications possessed by folk psychological laws, which means the two types of laws have different logical forms; and second, applied physical laws are best thought of as being about an idealized world and folk psychological laws about the actual world. (...) I argue that Horgan and Tienson have not made a persuasive case for either of the preceding views. (shrink)
Leuridan (2010) argued that mechanisms cannot provide a genuine alternative to laws of nature as a model of explanation in the sciences, and advocates Mitchell’s (1997) pragmatic account of laws. I first demonstrate that Leuridan gets the order of priority wrong between mechanisms, regularity, and laws, and then make some clarifying remarks about how laws and mechanisms relate to regularities. Mechanisms are not an explanatory alternative to regularities; they are an alternative to laws. The existence (...) of stable regularities in nature is necessary for either model of explanation: regularities are what laws describe and what mechanisms explain. (shrink)
According to the received view, the regularity “All F’s are G” is a real law of nature only if it supports a counterfactual conditional “If x were an F (but actually it is not), it would be a G”. Popper suggested a different approach -- universal generalisations differ from accidental generalisations in the structure of their terms. Terms in accidental generalisations are closed, extensional and terms in laws of nature are open, strictly universal, intensional. But Popper failed to develop (...) this point and used a mistaken and unnatural interpretation of counterfactual assumptions in order to defend the view that both laws of nature and accidental generalisations support counterfactuals. The idea that terms in laws of nature stand for intensions was developed twenty-five years later in the so called DTA theory, which explains laws of nature as relations between properties. (shrink)
The paper argues against the widely accepted assumption that the causal laws of (completed) physics, in contrast to those of the special sciences, are essentially strict. This claim played an important role already in debates about the anomalousness of the mental, and it currently experiences a renaissance in various discussions about mental causation, projectability of special science laws, and the nature of physical laws. By illustrating the distinction with some paradigmatic physical laws, the paper demonstrates that (...) only law schemata are strict whereas causal laws are generally non-strict. Several potential replies to this argument are discussed and rejected as unsound. (shrink)
This article aims to defend Locke against Quine’s charge, made in his famous “two dogmas” paper, that Locke’s theory of knowledge is badly flawed, not only for assuming the dogmas, but also for adopting an “intolerably restrictive” version of the dogma of reductionism. It is shown here that, in his analysis of the epistemological status of scientific laws, Locke has effectively transcended the narrow idea-empiricism which underlies this version of reductionism. First, in order to escape idealism, he introduced the (...) notion of “sensitive knowledge of the particular existence of finite beings without us,” broadening thus his initial definition of knowledge in terms of the “perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas” — a definition compatible with Quine’s interpretation. Secondly, after showing that we can have virtually no a priori knowledge of universal truths about substances, Locke extended the notion of “sensitive knowledge” to the particular propositions of “coexistence” in substances, appealing to the notion of “probability” for treating their inductive generalizations and, in particular, the phenomenological laws of science. Finally, acknowledging the essential presence of hypothetical, nonphenomenological laws in science, he anticipated much of the contemporary views on their role and nature, including, remarkably, a mild version of the epistemological holism championed by Quine. (shrink)
What are the laws of physics? -- The stuff that kicks back -- Point-of-view invariance -- Gauging the laws of physics -- Forces and broken symmetries -- Playing dice -- After the bang -- Out of the void -- The comprehensible cosmos -- Models of reality.
Is it possible to take the enterprise of physics seriously while also holding the belief that the world contains an order beyond the reach of that physics? Is it possible to simultaneously believe in objective laws of nature and in miracles? Is it possible to search for the truths of physics while also acknowledging the limitations of that search as it is carried out by limited human knowers? As a philosopher, as a Christian, and as a participant in the (...) physics of his day, Leibniz had an interesting view that bears on all of these questions. This paper examines the status of laws of nature in Leibniz's philosophy and how the status of these laws fits into his larger philosophical picture of the limits of human knowledge and the wise and omniscient God who created the actual world. (shrink)
This paper argues that Davidson's claim that the connection between belief and the "constitutive ideal of rationality" precludes the possibility of any type-type identities between mental and physical events relies on blurring the distinction between two ways of understanding this "constitutive ideal", and that no consistent understanding the constitutive ideal allows it to play the dialectical role Davidson intends for it.
John Carroll undertakes a careful philosophical examination of laws of nature, causation, and other related topics. He argues that laws of nature are not susceptible to the sort of philosophical treatment preferred by empiricists. Indeed he shows that emperically pure matters of fact need not even determine what the laws are. Similar, even stronger, conclusions are drawn about causation. Replacing the traditional view of laws and causation requiring some kind of foundational legitimacy, the author argues that (...) these phenomena are inextricably intertwined with everything else. This distinctively clear and detailed discussion of what it is to be a law will be valuable to a broad swathe of philosophers in metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy of science. (shrink)
Nearly 30 years have passed since Donald Davidson ﬁrst presented his ar- gument against the possibility of psychophysical laws in “Mental Events”. The argument applies to intentional rather than phenomenal properties, so whenever I refer to mental properties and to psychophysical laws it should be understood that I mean intentional properties and laws relating them to physical properties. No consensus has emerged over what the argument actually is, and the subsequent versions of it presented by Davidson show (...) signiﬁcant differences. But many have been inclined to agree with the spirit of the argument and with its conclusion. (shrink)
This book outlines a major new theory of natural laws. The book begins with the question of whether there are any genuinely law-like phenomena in nature. The discussion addresses questions currently being debated by metaphysicians such as whether the laws of nature are necessary or contingent and whether a property can be identified independently of its causal role.
This volume in the Clarendon Edition of the Works of Thomas Hobbes contains A dialogue between a philosopher and a student, of the common laws of England, edited by Alan Cromartie, supplemented by the important fragment "Questions relative to Hereditary Right," discovered and edited by Quentin Skinner. As a critique of common law by a great philosopher, the Dialogue should be essential reading for anybody interested in English political thought or legal theory. Cromartie has established when and why the (...) work was written and has supplied extensive annotation (along with a substantial introduction) to make the work accessible to the non-specialist reader. The additional piece sees Hobbes mounting a robust defense of hereditary right, in the course of which he also makes some important general observations about the concept of a right. It is also of special interest as it constitutes Hobbes's last word on politics. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper, I argue against the view that laws of nature are contingent, by attacking a necessary condition for its truth within the framework of a conception of laws as relations between universals. I try to show that there is no independent reason to think that universals have an essence independent of their nomological properties. However, such a non-qualitative essence is required to make sense of the idea that different laws link the (...) same universals in different possible worlds. In the second part, I give a positive argument for the necessity of at least some laws of nature, by showing with the example of a paradigmatic law of association that it consists in an internal relation between two universals which are determinables of the same class of determinates, where this relation is essential to both. Furthermore, I show that the necessity of laws of association could be accommodated within David Lewis' Humean metaphysics, but that it is incompatible with David Armstrong's combinatorialism. (shrink)
Of laws in general -- Of laws directly derived from the nature of government -- Of the principles of the three kinds of government -- That the laws of education ought to be relative to the principles of government -- That the laws given by the legislator ought to be relative to the nature of government -- Consquences of the principles of different governments, with respect to the simplicity of civil and criminal laws, the form (...) of judgements, and inflicting of punishments -- Consquences of the different principles of the three governments, with respect to sumptuary laws, luxury, and the condition of women -- Of the corruption of the principles of the three governments -- Of the laws in the relation they bear to defensive force -- Of laws, in the relation they bear to offensive force. (shrink)
Hegel's vocabulary -- Hegel's problematic -- Legal reasoning -- Persons, property, contract, and crime -- Legal formalism -- The ethicality of an ethos -- The shapes of family law -- The laws of civil society -- Constitutional shapes and the organic constitution -- Shapes of international law.
This book demonstrates that law can be newly interrogated when examined through the lens of literature. Like its forerunner, Empty Justice, the book creates simple pathways which energise and illustrate the links between legal theory and legal science and doctrine, through the wider visions of history, literature and culture. This broadening approach is integral to understanding law in the context of wider debates and media in the community. The book provides a collection of essays, with additional commentary which reflects upon (...) very recent scholarship and debate on a range of ethico-legal topics; it also illustrates how conventional legal matters may be rendered lively and palatable, as an adjunct to approaching doctrine and cases 'cold' in the conventional textbook manner. The chapters range from examination of current thought on cohabitation and marriage laws (via Jude the Obscure), 19th century medico-legal cases relevant to current narratives of insanity in women and the nature and status of expert evidence generally; assisted suicide and autonomy (via a poem by Jon Stallworthy) to an essay on the nature of race and ethnicity (via a poem by R S Thomas), a discussion of obscenity and moral philosophy (via an essay on Crash by J G Ballard and the philosophy of Bernard Williams) and a history of ideas discussion of positivism, natural law and political crisis, war and terrorism through legal and political theory texts and a poem by Auden. The materials refer to case law where appropriate. The chapters range from examination of current thought on cohabitation and marriage laws (via Jude the Obscure), 19th century medico-legal cases relevant to current narratives of insanity in women and the nature and status of expert evidence generally; assisted suicide and autonomy (via a poem by Jon Stallworthy) to an essay on the nature of race and ethnicity (via a poem by R S Thomas), a discussion of obscenity and moral philosophy (via an essay on Crash by J G Ballard and the philosophy of Bernard Williams) and a history of ideas discussion of positivism, natural law and political crisis, war and terrorism through legal and political theory texts and a poem by Auden. The materials refer to case law where appropriate. (shrink)
The Spirit of the Laws is without question one of the central texts in the history of eighteenth-century thought, yet there has been no complete scholarly English language edition since 1750. This lucid translation renders Montesquieu's problematic text newly accessible to a fresh generation of students, helping them to understand why Montesquieu was such an important figure in the early enlightenment and why The Spirit of the Laws was such an influence on those who framed the American Constitution. (...) Fully annotated, this edition focuses on Montesquieu's use of sources and his text as a whole, rather than on those opening passages toward which critical energies have traditionally been devoted. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to consider some aspects of the question of how difficult it should be to amend or change constitutional laws through formal amendment procedures. The point of departure of my discussion is an amendment procedure that has recently been suggested by the prominent legal and political philosopher Bruce Ackerman. He defends a three-step amendment procedure – where a re-elected president is authorised to propose amendments that must thereafter be approved first by a two-thirds majority (...) of the legislature, and then by a simple majority of the citizens at the next two presidential elections. I propose and defend an alternative amendment procedure that can be termed the four-step procedure. According to this procedure, the right to propose amendments is granted both to legislators and voters via citizen initiatives. Thereafter, the proposed amendments should be placed before the legislature, where they must be approved by a simple majority in two successive parliaments, and there must be an interval of no less than one year between the two votes. If passed by the legislative assembly, the amendment(s) should be approved by a simple majority of the electorate in a referendum. However, a submajority of the legislators (i.e. a one-third minority) should be empowered to require an additional referendum on the proposed amendment(s), and this final referendum should be held two years after the first popular vote. In order to assess the outlined amendment procedures, I primarily focus on the following factors or criteria of evaluation, which I group under three headings: (1) Central ideas and ideals in deliberative democratic theory and the fact of persistent disagreement in modern pluralist societies (this includes considerations of how well alternative amendment procedures deal with disagreement among citizens); (2) rule of law values, stability and flexibility; and (3) the value of checks and balances that can guard against the abuse of power (or more precisely, whether the amendment procedures under consideration provide adequate checks and balances between courts, political actors and citizens). (shrink)
Commentators have contested the role of resulting harm in criminal law since the time of Plato. Unfortunately, they have neglected what may be not only the best discussion of the issue, but also the first - namely, Plato's one-paragraph discussion in the "Laws." Plato's discussion succeeds in reconciling two, seemingly irreconcilable viewpoints that till now have been in stalemate. Thus, Plato reconciles the view, that an offender's desert is solely a function of his subjective willingness to act in disregard (...) of the legitimate interests of others, with the view that criminal sentences can appropriately be made to depend upon how indignant, angry, and upset society is at an offender based upon the results of his culpable conduct. In doing so, Plato casts light on retributive theories of punishment by suggesting that an adjudicator can be committed to retribution and yet rightly believe that it is inappropriate to give an offender the full punishment he deserves. He also lays a basis for the view that causation, rather being predicates for the just punishment of offenders toward whom the public is intuitively angry for harm, is the consequence of the public's being intuitively angry at offenders for harm. (shrink)
I insist that I was able to raise my hand, and I acknowledge that a law would have been broken had I done so, but I deny that I am therefore able to break a law. To uphold my instance of soft determinism, I need not claim any incredible powers. To uphold the compatibilism that I actually believe, I need not claim that such powers are even possible. My incompatibilist opponent is a creature of fiction, but he has his prototypes (...) in real life. He is modeled partly after Peter van Inwagen and partly on myself when I first worried about van Inwagen's argument against compatibilism. (shrink)
In the beginning, there was the DN (Deductive Nomological) model of explanation, articulated by Hempel and Oppenheim (1948). According to DN, scientific explanation is subsumption under natural law. Individual events are explained by deducing them from laws together with initial conditions (or boundary conditions), and laws are explained by deriving them from other more fundamental laws, as, for example, the simple pendulum law is derived from Newton's laws of motion.
This paper sketches a dispositionalist conception of laws and shows how the dispositionalist should respond to certain objections. The view that properties are essentially dispositional is able to provide an account of laws that avoids the problems that face the two views of laws (the regularity and the contingent nomic necessitation views) that regard properties as categorical and laws as contingent. I discuss and reject the objections that (i) this view makes laws necessary whereas they (...) are contingent; (ii) this view cannot account for certain kinds of laws of nature and their properties. (shrink)
One view of the nature of properties has been crystallized in recent debate by an identity thesis proposed by Shoemaker. The general idea is that there is for behaviour. Well-known criticisms of this approach, however, remain unanswered, and the details of its connections to laws nothing more to being a particular causal property than conferring certain dispositions of nature and the precise ontology of causal properties stand in need of development. This paper examines and defends a dispositional essentialist account (...) of causal properties, combining a Shoemaker-type identity thesis with a Dretske, Tooley, and Armstrong-type view that laws are relations between properties, and a realism about dispositions. The property identity thesis is defended against standard epistemological and metaphysical objections. The metaphysics of causal properties is then clarified by a consideration of the laws relating them, vacuous laws, and ceteris paribus law statements. (shrink)
In this paper the claim that laws of nature are to be understood as claims about what necessarily or reliably happens is disputed. Laws can characterize what happens in a reliable way, but they do not do this easily. We do not have laws for everything occurring in the world, but only for those situations where what happens in nature is represented by a model: models are blueprints for nomological machines, which in turn give rise to (...) class='Hi'>laws. An example from economics shows, in particular, how we use--and how we need to use--models to get probabilistic laws. (shrink)
: This paper argues that Kant's model of causality cannot consist in one temporally determinate event causing another, as Hume had thought, since such a model is inconsistent with mutual interaction, to which Kant is committed in the Third Analogy. Rather causality occurs when one substance actively exercises its causal powers according to the unchanging grounds that constitute its nature so as to determine a change of state of another substance. Because this model invokes unchanging grounds, one can understand how (...) Kant could have thought that causal laws could be justified. Further, because this model, along with the broader ontology it presupposes, is radically different from Hume's, Kant's Second Analogy cannot be understood as a refutation of Hume's position on Hume's own terms; instead, Kant must be proposing an alternative view that competes against Hume's thoroughgoing empiricist account. (shrink)
Are the laws of nature real? Do they belong to the world or merely reflect the way we speak about it? And if they are real, what sort of entity are they? These questions have been intensely debated by philosophers. Modern cosmology, however, has given such questions a new twist by introducing a unique perspective on physical reality, the perspective which I shall call the cosmological point of view. In this perspective, the universe as a whole presents itself as (...) a single individual entity that undergoes a radical change with time. Laws of physics, on the other hand, have both local and global significance. They characterize how things behave locally. But they also characterize the entire universe. This suggests an interesting connection between the universe as a whole and what laws of physics hold in this universe. From the cosmological point of view, these two totalities, the laws of physics and the universe, may be related. But how exactly? Are the laws “inscribed” in the fabric of the universe or do they in some sense “precede” it in the order of being? If the latter, what is a “medium,” over and above the physical universe, in which physical laws are “written”? If the former, are they but a consequence of the universe’s very existence? And if so, how could the laws of physics survive the dramatic change the physical state of the universe underwent in the course of time? (shrink)
's argumentation in favour of essential invariability of the fundamental laws of nature is critically examined. It is contended that within the realist framework Poincareé's arguments lose their apodictical force. In this sense the assumption of inconstancy of even the fundamental laws of nature is methodologically legitimate.
In this paper I argue that we can best make sense of the practice of experimental evolutionary biology if we see it as investigating contingent, rather than lawlike, regularities. This understanding is contrasted with the experimental practice of certain areas of physics. However, this presents a problem for those who accept the Logical Positivist conception of law and its essential role in scientific explanation. I address this problem by arguing that the contingent regularities of evolutionary biology have a limited range (...) of nomic necessity and a limited range of explanatory power even though they lack the unlimited projectibility that has been seen by some as a hallmark of scientific laws. (shrink)
I argue for the claim that if Lewis’s regularity theory of laws were true, we could not know any positive law statement to be true. Premise 1: According to that theory, for any law statement true of the actual world, there is always a nearby world where the law statement is false (a world that differs with respect to one matter of particular fact). Premise 2: One cannot know a proposition to be true if it is false in a (...) nearby world (the epistemological safety principle). The conclusion that no law statement can be known to be true follows immediately from the two premises. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that it is not a priori that all the laws of nature are contingent. I assume that the fundamental laws are contingent and show that some non-trivial, a posteriori, non-basic laws may nonetheless be necessary in the sense of having no counterinstances in any possible world. I consider a law LS (such as 'salt dissolves in water') that concerns a substance S. Kripke's arguments concerning constitution show that the existence of S requires (...) that a certain deeper level law or variants thereof hold. At the same time, that law and its variants may each entail the truth of LS. Thus the existence of S entails LS. Consequently there is no world in which S exists and fails to obey LS. I consider the conditions concerning the fundamental laws that would make this phenomenon ubiquitous. I conclude with some consequences for metaphysics. (shrink)
The emphasis on models hasn’t completely eliminated laws from scientific discourse and philosophical discussion. Instead, I want to argue that much of physics lies beyond the strict domain of laws. I shall argue that in important cases the physics, or physical understanding, does not lie either in laws or in their properties, such as universality, consistency and symmetry. I shall argue that the domain of application commonly attributed to laws is too narrow. That is, laws (...) can still play an important, though peculiar, role outside their strict domain of validity. I shall argue also that, by way of a trade-off, while the actual domain of application of laws should be seen as much broader. At the same time, what I call ‘anomic’ representational elements reveal themselves as central to the descriptive and explanatory power of theories and model: boundary conditions, state descriptions, structures, constraints, limits and mechanisms. I conclude with a brief consideration of how my discussion has consequences for discussion of understanding, unification, approximation and dispositional properties. I focus on examples from physics, macroscopic and microscopic, phenomenological and fundametal: shock waves, propagation of cracks, symmetry breaking, and others. This law-eccentric kind of knowledge is central to both modeling the world and intervening in it. (shrink)
Suppose it is a law that all Fs are G. Does the law hold in all possible worlds? According to Necessitarianism, it holds in at least all those worlds containing F-ness. I argue that the Necessitarian must also take the law to hold in all those possible worlds which do not contain F-ness. Accepting the principle that a law can only hold in a world if it has some ontological grounding in that world, I argue that Necessitarianism is committed to (...) the claim that any law holding in the actual world is grounded in every possible world, and that any law holding in any possible world is grounded in the actual world. In other words, Necessitarianism takes all possible laws to be actual. (shrink)
This paper examines commonly offered arguments to show that human behavior is not deterministic because it is not predictable. These arguments turn out to rest on the assumption that deterministic systems must be governed by deterministic laws, and that these give rise to predictability "in principle" of determined events. A positive account of determinism is advanced and it is shown that neither of these assumptions is true. The relation between determinism, laws, and prediction in practice is discussed as (...) a question in scientific epistemology. (shrink)
Dispositional essentialism entails necessitarianism about the laws. If the laws are deterministic, that seems to make many counterfactuals vacuous. This paper proposes a way of reconciling the possibility of miracles with necessary, deterministic laws, thus permitting standard Lewis semantics for counterfactuals.