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)
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)
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)
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)
Causation is important. It is, as Hume said, the cement of the universe, and lies at the heart of our conceptual structure. Causation is one of the most fundamental tools we have for organizing our apprehension of the external world and ourselves. But philosophers' disagreement about the correct interpretation of causation is as limitless as their agreement about its importance. The history of attempts to elucidate the nature of this concept and to situate it with respect to other fundamental (...) concepts is almost as long as the history of philosophy itself. In this first English translation of Causalite; et lois de la nature Max Kistler seeks to reconstruct a unified concept of causation that is general enough to adequately deal with both elementary physical processes and the macroscopic level of phenomena we encounter in everyday life. It will be of great interest to philosophers of science and metaphysics; and also to students and scholars of philosophy of mind where concepts of causation and law play a prominent role. (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)
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)
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)
This is a study of a crucial and controversial topic in metaphysics and the philosophy of science: the status of the laws of nature. D. M. Armstrong works out clearly and in comprehensive detail a largely original view that laws are relations between properties or universals. The theory is continuous with the views on universals and more generally with the scientific realism that Professor Armstrong has advanced in earlier publications. He begins here by mounting an attack on (...) the orthodox and sceptical view deriving from Hume that laws assert no more than a regularity of coincidence between instances of properties. In doing so he presents what may become the definitive statement of the case against this position. Professor Armstrong then goes on to establish his own theory in a systematic manner defending it against the most likely objections, and extending both it and the related theory of universals to cover functional and statistical laws. This treatment of the subject is refreshingly concise and vivid: it will both stimulate vigorous professional debate and make an excellent student text. (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)
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.
Today, mechanisms and mechanistic explanation are very popular in philosophy of science and are deemed a welcome alternative to laws of nature and deductive‐nomological explanation. Starting from Mitchell's pragmatic notion of laws, I cast doubt on their status as a genuine alternative. I argue that (1) all complex‐systems mechanisms ontologically must rely on stable regularities, while (2) the reverse need not hold. Analogously, (3) models of mechanisms must incorporate pragmatic laws, while (4) such laws themselves (...) need not always refer to underlying mechanisms. Finally, I show that Mitchell's account is more encompassing than the mechanistic account *Received August 2008; revised January 2010. †To contact the author, please write to: Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, B‐9000 Belgium; e‐mail: Bert.Leuridan@Ugent.be. (shrink)
A dispositional property is a tendency, or potency, to manifest some characteristic behaviour in some appropriate context. The mainstream view in the twentieth century was that such properties are to be explained in terms of more fundamental non-dispositional properties, together with the laws of nature. In the last few decades, however, a rival view has become popular, according to which some properties are essentially dispositional in nature, and the laws of nature are to be explained (...) in terms of these fundamental dispositions. The supposed ability of fundamental dispositions to ground natural laws is one of the most attractive features of the dispositional essentialist position. In this paper, however, I cast doubt on the ability of dispositional essences to ground the laws of nature. In particular I argue that the dispositional essentialist position is not able to coherently respond?sympathetically or otherwise?to Cartwright's challenge that there are no true general laws of nature. (shrink)
This paper investigates what Newton could have meant in a now famous passage from De Gravitatione (hereafter “DeGrav”) that “space is as it were an emanative effect of God” (21). First I offer a careful examination of the four key passages within DeGrav that bear on this. I argue that the logic of Newton’s argument permits several interpretations (section I). Second I sketch four options: i) one approach associated with the Cambridge Platonist, Thomas More, recently investigated by Dana Jalobeanu and (...) Ed Slowik; ii) one traditional neo-Platonic approach; iii) a necessitarian approach associated with Howard Stein’s interpretation, recently reaffirmed by Andrew Janiak; iv) an approach connected with Bacon’s efforts to reformulate a useful notion of form and laws of nature. Hitherto only the first and third options have received scholarly attention. I offer arguments to treat Newtonian emanation as a species of Baconian formal causation and in this way to combine some of the most attractive elements of the first three options (section II). Finally in Section III, I suggest that the recent scholarly focus on emanation has obscured the importance of Newton’s very interesting claims about existence and measurement in the same passage(s). (shrink)
Laws of nature are puzzling because they have a 'modal character'—they seem to be 'necessary-ish'—even though they also seem to be metaphysically contingent. And it is hard to understand how contingent truths could have such a modal character. Scientific essentialism is a doctrine that seems to dissolve this puzzle, by showing that laws of nature are actually metaphysically necessary. I argue that even if the metaphysics of natural kinds and properties offered by scientific essentialism is correct, (...) there are still some metaphysically contingent truths that share the modal character of the laws of nature. I argue that these contingent truths should be considered laws of nature. So even if scientific essentialism is true, at least some laws of nature are metaphysically contingent. (shrink)
Recently, proponents of Humean Supervenience have challenged the plausibility of the intuition that the laws of nature 'govern', or guide, the evolution of events in the universe. Certain influential thought experiments authored by John Carroll, Michael Tooley, and others, rely strongly on such intuitions. These thought experiments are generally regarded as playing a central role in the lawhood debate, suggesting that the Mill-Ramsey-Lewis view of the laws of nature, and the related doctrine of the Humean Supervenience (...) of laws, are false. In this paper, I take on these recent challenges, arguing that the intuition that the laws govern should be taken seriously. Still, I find the recent discussions insightful, in certain ways. Employing some ideas from one of the critics (Barry Loewer), I draw some non-standard conclusions about the significance of the thought experiments to the lawhood debate. (shrink)
The regularities in nature, simply by being regularities, call for explanation. There are only two ways in which we could, with any plausibility, try to explain them. One way would be to suppose that they are imposed on the world by God. The other would be to suppose that they reflect the presence of laws of nature, conceived of as forms of natural necessity. But the only way of making sense of the notion of a law of (...)nature, thus conceived, is by construing a law as the causing of the associated regularity, and the only remotely plausible account of such causing would be in terms of the agency of God. So, by whichever route, we are led to the conclusion that the regularities are brought about by God. So the presence of the regularities in nature provides us with a strong case for accepting the existence of God. (shrink)
Within metaphysics, there are two competing theories of Laws of Nature. On one account, the Regularity Theory, Laws of Nature are statements of the uniformities or regularities in the world; they are mere descriptions of the way the world is. On the other account, the Necessitarian Theory, Laws of Nature are the “principles” which govern the natural phenomena of the world. That is, the natural world “obeys” the Laws of Nature. This seemingly (...) innocuous difference marks one of the most profound gulfs within contemporary philosophy, and has quite unexpected, and wide-ranging, implications. (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 paper considers recent proposals by Armstrong, Dretske, and Tooley that revive the view that statements of laws of nature are grounded by the existence of higher order facts relating universals. Several objections to such a view are raised and an alternative analysis, recognizing general facts, is considered. Such an alternative is shown to meet a number of the objections raised against the appeal to higher order facts and it is also related to views of Hume and Wittgenstein. (...) Further objections are then raised to all the non-Humean "realist" attempts to provide special facts to ground the laws of nature. (shrink)
David Lewis's best-system analysis of laws of nature is perhaps the best known sophisticated regularity theory of laws. Its strengths are widely recognized, even by some of its ablest critics. Yet it suffers from what appears to be a glaring weakness: It seems to grant an arbitrary privilege to the standards of our own scientific culture. I argue that by reformulating, or reinterpreting, Lewis's exposition of the best-system analysis, we arrive at a view that is free of (...) this weakness. The resulting theory of laws has the surprising consequence that the term "law of nature" is indexical. (shrink)
The modern sciences are divided into two groups: law-formulating and natural historical sciences. Sciences of both groups aim at describing the world, but they do so differently. Whereas the natural historical sciences produce “transcriptions” intended to be literally true of actual occurrences, laws of nature are expressive symbols of aspects of the world. The relationship between laws and the world thus resembles that between the symbols of classical iconography and the objects for which they stand. The natural (...) historical approach was founded by Aristotle and is retained in such present-day sciences as botany. Modern physics differentiated itself from the natural historical sciences and developed a symbolizing approach at the hands of Galileo and Descartes. Our knowledge of the physical domain is provided by two disciplines: the law-formulating science of physics and a natural historical science on which we depend in the everyday manipulation of our surroundings. (shrink)
Sciences are often regarded as providing the best, or, ideally, exact, knowledge of the world, especially in providing laws of nature. Ilya Prigogine, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for his theory of non-equilibrium chemical processes—this being also an important attempt to bridge the gap between exact and non-exact sciences [mentioned in the Presentation Speech by Professor Stig Claesson (nobelprize.org, The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1977)]—has had this ideal in mind when trying to formulate a new kind of (...) science. Philosophers of science distinguish theory and reality, examining relations between these two. Nancy Cartwright’s distinction of fundamental and phenomenological laws, Rein Vihalemm’s conception of the peculiarity of the exact sciences, and Ronald Giere’s account of models in science and science as a set of models are deployed in this article to criticise the common view of science and analyse Ilya Prigogine’s view in particular. We will conclude that on a more abstract, philosophical level, Prigogine’s understanding of science doesn’t differ from the common understanding. (shrink)
Most philosophers of science hold that the laws of nature play an important role in determining which counterfactuals are true. Marc Lange reverses this dependence, arguing that it is the truth of certain counterfactuals that determines which statements are laws. I argue that the context sensitivity of counterfactual sentences makes it impossible for them to determine the laws. Next, I argue that Lange’s view cannot avoid additional counterexamples concerning nested counterfactuals. Finally, I argue that Lange’s counterfacts, (...) posited as the ultimate ontological ground for the laws of nature, are unsuited to the role he demands of them. (shrink)
In What is a Law of Nature? (1983) David Armstrong promotes a theory of laws according to which laws of nature are contingent relations of necessitation between universals. The metaphysics Armstrong develops uses deterministic causal laws as paradigmatic cases of laws, but he thinks his metaphysics explicates other sorts of laws too, including probabilistic laws, like that of the half-life of radium being 1602 years. Bas van Fraassen (1987) gives seven arguments for (...) why Armstrong’s theory of laws is incapable of explicating probabilistic laws. The main thrust of the arguments is that Armstrong’s metaphysical apparatus serves to drive up the initial probability values stated by probabilistic laws. Armstrong replies .. (shrink)
It has been said that Robert Boyle gave in the century of The Scientific Revolution the “fullest expression” of the view that laws of nature are continually impressed by God (“occasionalism”). So regarded, the universe is anything but an autonomous machine, its ordered operation depending on God’s continuous imposition of lawful, patterned relations between phenomena and his continuous provision of motion for them to actually enter relations. The present paper contests this treatment of Boyle. Evidence is elicited to (...) show that, for Boyle, most physical relations issue from intrinsic dispositions of phenomena, not divine impositions, dispositions determined by corpuscular textures. Members of classes of phenomena have capacities to make specific changes which members of other classes have capacities to receive, these correlative capacities being necessarily connected, subjects in principle of a priori synthetic necessary knowledge. The same view is found in John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. It is additionally argued that Boyle’s God, the quintessentially active being, imparted motion at the creation, whereafter the motion of (at least most) natural phenomena has derived from natural, not supernatural, impulsion. (shrink)
Newton, along with a number of other seventeenth-century scientists, is frequently charged with having held an inconsistent view of nature and its operations, believing on the one hand in immutable laws of nature, and on the other in divine interventions into the natural order. In this paper I argue that Newton, William Whiston, and Samuel Clarke, came to understand miracles, not as violations of laws of nature, but rather as beneficent coincidences which were remarkable either (...) because they were unusual, or were beyond current understandings of nature. In this manner the Newtonians managed to reconcile their scientific pursuits with their religious convictions. (shrink)
The problem of the peculiarcharacter of chemical laws and theories is a central topic in philosophy of chemistry. Oneof the most characteristic and, at the sametime, most puzzling examples in discussions onchemical laws and theories is Mendeleev''speriodic law. This law seems to be essentiallydifferent in its nature from the exact laws ofclassical physics, the latter being usuallyregarded as a paradigm of science byphilosophers. In this paper the main argumentsconcerning the peculiar character of chemicallaws and theories are (...) examined. The laws ofchemistry are natural laws to the same extentas are the laws of physics. The law discoveredby Mendeleev is a normal law of nature. It isnot a law of physics, nevertheless, it is exactin the same philosophical sense as are the lawsof physics. The periodic system of chemicalelements was established by constructing anidealized system of idealized elements. Thefundamental idealization substantiated byexperimental chemistry was the chemicalelement as a place in the periodicsystem. (shrink)
Causation and the laws of nature are nothing over and above the pattern of events, just like a movie is nothing over and above the sequence of frames. Or so I will argue. The position I will argue for is broadly inspired by Hume and Lewis, and may be expressed in the slogan: what must be, must be grounded in what is.
This article serves as an introduction to the laws-of-biology debate. After introducing the main issues in an introductory section, arguments for and against laws of biology are canvassed in Section 2. In Section 3, the debate is placed in wider epistemological context by engaging a group of scholars who have shifted the focus away from the question of whether there are laws of biology and toward offering good accounts of explanation(s) in the biological sciences. Section 4 introduces (...) two relatively new pieces of science – metabolic scaling theory and ecological stoichiometry – that have not been topics of much discussion by philosophers but are relevant because they have at least some of the hallmarks of laws of nature. Section 5 concludes by pointing out that discovering laws of biology, if any there be, will not necessarily answer the questions raised by the debate in the first place: we will still want to know how biology compares to other sciences, how to characterize its systems and processes, and whether accounts in terms of laws always or usually constitute adequate explanations in various sciences. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss and evaluate different arguments for the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. I conclude that essentialist arguments from the nature of natural kinds fail to establish that essences are ontologically more basic than laws, and fail to offer an a priori argument for the necessity of all causal laws. Similar considerations carry across to the argument from the dispositionalist view of properties, which may end up placing unreasonable (...) constraints on property identity across possible worlds. None of my arguments preclude the possibility that the laws may turn out to be metaphysically necessary after all, but I argue that this can only be established by a posteriori scientific investigation. I therefore argue for what may seem to be a surprising conclusion: that a fundamental metaphysical question – the modal status of laws of nature – depends on empirical facts rather than purely on a priori reasoning. (shrink)
This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easy to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of (...) the Humean base that, we argue, enables HS to capture what is really stake in the debate, without taking on extraneous commitments. (shrink)
Are the laws of nature among the eternal truths that, according to Descartes, are created by God? The basis of those laws is the immutability of the divine will, which is not an eternal truth, but a divine attribute. On the other hand, the realization of those laws, and in particular, the quantitative consequences to be drawn from them, depend upon the eternal truths insofar as those truths include the foundations of geometry and arithmetic.
John Foster presents a clear and powerful discussion of a range of topics relating to our understanding of the universe: induction, laws of nature, and the existence of God. He begins by developing a solution to the problem of induction - a solution whose key idea is that the regularities in the workings of nature that have held in our experience hitherto are to be explained by appeal to the controlling influence of laws, as forms of (...) natural necessity. His second line of argument focuses on the issue of what we should take such necessitational laws to be, and whether we can even make sense of them at all. Having considered and rejected various alternatives, Foster puts forward his own proposal: the obtaining of a law consists in the causal imposing of a regularity on the universe as a regularity. With this causal account of laws in place, he is now equipped to offer an argument for theism. His claim is that natural regularities call for explanation, and that, whatever explanatory role we may initially assign to laws, the only plausible ultimate explanation is in terms of the agency of God. Finally, he argues that, once we accept the existence of God, we need to think of him as creating the universe by a method which imposes regularities on it in the relevant law-yielding way. In this new perspective, the original nomological-explanatory solution to the problem of induction becomes a theological-explanatory solution. The Divine Lawmaker is bold and original in its approach, and rich in argument. The issues on which it focuses are among the most important in the whole epistemological and metaphysical spectrum. (shrink)
In Part I, we presented and motivated a new formulation of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). Here in Part II, we present an epistemological argument in defense of HS, thus formulated. Our contention is that one can combine a modest realism about laws of nature with a proper recognition of the importance of empirical testability in the epistemology of science only if one accepts HS.
In his paper "Miracles: Metaphysics, Physics, and Physicalism," Kirk McDermid appears to have two primary goals. The first is to demonstrate that my account of how God might produce a miracle without violating any laws of nature is radically flawed. The second is to suggest two alternative accounts, one suitable for a deterministic world, one suitable for an indeterministic world, which allow for the occurrence of a miracle without violation of the laws of nature, yet do (...) not suffer from the defects of what McDermid terms the ’Larmerian’ model. I briefly describe my model, reply to McDermid’s criticism of it, and evaluate his alternative accounts. (shrink)
This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easily to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of (...) the Humean base that, we argue, enables HS to capture what is really stake in the debate, without taking on extraneous commitments. (shrink)
This article attacks “open systems” arguments that because constant conjunctions are not generally observed in the real world of open systems we should be highly skeptical that universal laws exist. This work differs from other critiques of open system arguments against laws of nature by not focusing on laws themselves, but rather on the inference from open systems. We argue that open system arguments fail for two related reasons; 1) because they cannot account for the “systems” (...) central to their argument (nor the implied systems labeled “exogenous factors” in relation to the system of interest) and 2) they are nomocentric, fixated on laws while ignoring initial and antecedent conditions that are able to account for systems and exogenous factors within a fundamentalist framework. (shrink)
This paper argues that theism and related axiarchic hypotheses provide the only promising solution to the problems of cosmic coincidence and induction raised by necessitarians against the regularity view of the laws of nature. Hence, it is argued, the fundamental order of the world provides significant support for theism and these related hypotheses.
This paper introduces a conjecture that laws of nature may be of different kinds, in particular that there may, in addition to laws which constrain outcomes (C-laws), be laws which empower systems to direct or select outcomes (E-laws) and laws which guide systems in such selections (G-laws). The paper defends this conjecture by suggesting that it is not excluded by anything we know, is plausible, and is potentially of great explanatory power.
Laws of nature are properly (if controversially) conceived as abstract entities playing a governing role in the physical universe. Dispositionalists typically hold that laws of nature are not real, or at least are not fundamental, and that regularities in the physical universe are grounded in the causal powers of objects. By contrast, I argue that dispositionalism implies nomic realism: since at least some dispositions have ceteris paribus clauses incorporating uninstantiated universals, and these ceteris paribus clauses help (...) to determine their dispositions' ranges of manifestation, there are indeed abstracta which play a governing role in the physical universe. After addressing several objections (including the objection that such ‘laws’ lack sufficient independence/externality from the dispositions to count as genuinely governing), I go on to consider some broader implications of this conclusion for other debates in metaphysics and the philosophy of science.1. (shrink)
Construing miracles as “violations,” I argue that a law of nature must specify some kind of possibility. But we must have here a sense of possibility for which the ancient rule of logic---ab esse ad posse valet consequentia---does not hold. We already have one example associated with the concept of statute law, a law which specifies what is legally possible but which is not destroyed by a violation. If laws of nature are construed as specifying some analogous (...) sense of what is naturally possible, then they need not be invalidated by a (rare) violation, and Humean miracles remain a genuine possibility. (shrink)
In this paper, I briefly present the regularity and necessity views and assess their difficulties. I construe scientific laws as universal propositions satisfied by empirically successful scientific models and made — approximately — true by the real systems represented, albeit partially, by these models. I also conceive a scientific theory as a set of models together with a set of propositions, some of which are laws. A scientific law is a universal proposition or statement that belongs to a (...) scientific theory. Scientific laws also are laws of nature since we can provide arguments in favour of natural causal powers that ground the truth of laws. I argue that the truth of counterfactual conditional statements and the occurrence of regularities in nature provide good reasons to believe that real causal powers exist in nature and that the (approximate) truth of scientific laws is based on a metaphysics of nature. (shrink)
I DEFEND THE VIEW THAT MIRACLES, CONSIDERED AS OBJECTIVE EVENTS SPECIALLY CAUSED BY GOD, CAN CONCEIVABLY OCCUR IN A WORLD WHICH BEHAVES, ALWAYS AND EVERYWHERE, COMPLETELY IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE LAWS OF NATURE. GOD, BY CREATING OR ANNIHILATING UNITS OR MASS/ENERGY AND THUS ALTERING THE MATERIAL CONDITIONS TO WHICH THE LAWS APPLY, CAN PRODUCE A MIRACLE WITHOUT VIOLATING ANY OF THE LAWS OF NATURE.
I analyze different accounts of laws of nature: the Hume-Lewis regularity account, the Armstrong-Tooley relations between universals account, and my preferred account in terms of the powers and liabilities of individual substances. On any account it is most unlikely a priori that a universe would be governed by simple laws of nature. But if there is a God, it is quite probable that he will choose to create free agents of limited power, and to put them (...) in a universe governed by simple laws of nature, in order that their purposes may have their intended effects. Hence, the operation of simple laws of nature confirms the existence of God. (shrink)
The philosophical consequences of synergetics, the interdisciplinary theory of evolution and self-organization of complex systems, are being drawn in the paper. The idea of discreteness of evolutionary paths is in the focus of attention. Although the future is open, and there are many alternative evolutionary paths for complex systems, not any arbitrary (either conceivable or desirable) evolutionary path is feasible in a given system. There are discrete spectra of possible evolutionary paths which are determined exclusively by inner properties of the (...) corresponding systems. Synergetics allows us to reveal general laws of self-organization and, therefore, certain limits of arbitrariness of nature in choosing possible paths of evolution as well as in constructing of a complex evolutionary whole. A comparative analysis between the modern synergetic notions and a few ideas of the Western philosophy (F. Nietzsche, N. Hartmann, M. Heidegger) and of the Eastern teachings (Taoism, Buddhism) is made. (shrink)
[Time, the fundamental dimension of our existence, has fascinated artists, philosophers, and scientists of every culture and every century. All of us can remember a moment as a child when time became a personal reality, when we realized what a "year" was, or asked ourselves when "now" happened. Common sense says time moves forward, never backward, from cradle to grave. Nevertheless, Einstein said that time is an illusion. Nature's laws, as he and Newton defined them, describe a timeless, (...) deterministic universe within which we can make predictions with complete certainty. In effect, these great physicists contended that time is reversible and thus meaningless. (shrink)
Traditional theories construe approximate truth or truthlikeness as a measure of closeness to facts, singular facts, and idealization as an act of either assuming zero of otherwise very small differences from facts or imagining ideal conditions under which scientific laws are either approximately true or will be so when the conditions are relaxed. I first explain the serious but not insurmountable difficulties for the theories of approximation, and then argue that more serious and perhaps insurmountable difficulties for the theory (...) of idealization force us to sever its close tie to approximation. This leads to an appreciation of lawlikeness as a measure of closeness to laws, which I argue is the real measure of idealization whose main purpose is to carve nature at its joints. (shrink)
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)
This article examines the moral theory of the American Revolutionary and Founding periods by focusing on two key concepts of that doctrine: the moral laws and the moral rights of nature. In particular, the article will examine several important questions from the perspective of Americas moral laws and rights descriptive, prescriptive, or both? What are the attributes and sanctions of natures laws and rights? And finally, how did Americas revolutionary mind and moral theory: the Declaration of (...) Independence. The Declaration’s deepest philosophic meaning is herein illuminated by also examining the broader, extant literature of the period. (shrink)
The main goal of quantum logic is the bottom-up reconstruction of quantum mechanics in Hilbert space. Here we discuss the question whether quantum logic is an empirical structure or a priori valid. There are good reasons for both possibilities. First, with respect to the possibility of a rational reconstruction of quantum mechanics, quantum logic follows a priori from quantum ontology and can thus not be considered as a law of nature. Second, since quantum logic allows for a reconstruction of (...) quantum mechanics, self-referential consistency requires that the empirical content of quantum mechanics must be compatible with the presupposed quantum ontology. Hence, quantum ontology contains empirical components that are also contained in quantum logic. Consequently, in this sense quantum logic is also a law of nature. (shrink)
Abstract Nominalists, denying the reality of anything over and above concreta, are committed to a reductive account of any law of nature, explaining its necessity?the fact that it not only holds for all actual instances, but would hold for any additional ones?in, for example, epistemic terms (its likelihood/certainty of holding beyond the already observed instances). Nominalists argue that the world would be no different without irreducible modalities. ?Modal realists? often object that this parallels a common phenomenalist argument against believing (...) in a mind?independent external world. However, phenomenalism without translatability into sensory language is incoherent, though any such translation is impossible. The ?as if philosophy is untenable as well. But it is quite possible to formulate inductive methodology's imperatives in non?modal terms. Modal realism purports to give a reason against inductive scepticism, but does not go beyond saying that there is one. (shrink)
Some philosophers have argued that miracles cannot occur because it is impossible for an event to violate a law of nature. This paper examines three attempts (by W.L. Rowe, N. Smart, and R. Swinburne) to refute this argument. It concludes that none of them is successful if one wants to use the law-violating character of alleged miracles as evidence for God’s existence and nature.
This book advocates dispositional essentialism, the view that natural properties have dispositional essences.1 So, for example, the essence of the property of being negatively charged is to be disposed to attract positively charged objects. From this fact it follows that it is a law that all negatively charged objects will attract positively 10 charged objects; and indeed that this law is metaphysically necessary. Since the identity of the property of being negatively charged is determined by its being related in a (...) certain way to the property of being positively charged, in any world in which these properties exist they must be related so that all negatively charged objects attract positively charged objects. 15 Bird opposes his dispositional essentialism to the view that properties are categorical in nature, with their identities grounded in quiddities that are not exhausted by their relations to other properties. The main exponents of this view are D.M. Armstrong and David Lewis. They take the laws of nature to be contingent though they entertain very different views about their nature: Armstrong is a necessitarian 20 about laws, taking them to be relations of nomic necessitation between universals, while Lewis is a Humean about laws who takes them to be a special kind of regularity. The book is a sustained defence of the dispositional essentialist conception of properties and laws against the competing conceptions espoused by Armstrong and Lewis. One rough way to characterize the difference between these conceptions is to say that 25 the categoricalist sees properties as passive and inert with the laws of nature being fixed independently of the nature of properties whereas, in contrast, the dispositional essentialist sees properties as active potencies from which the laws of nature automatically spring. A slightly more tendentious way to express the difference is to say, as Bird does, that the categoricalist views embrace the Humean doctrine that there are no 30 necessary connexions in nature, while the dispositional essentialist view, on the other hand, repudiates this doctrine.. (shrink)
Laws of nature seem to take two forms. Fundamental physics discovers laws that hold without exception, ‘strict laws’, as they are sometimes called; even if some laws of fundamental physics are irreducibly probabilistic, the probabilistic relation is thought not to waver. In the nonfundamental, or special, sciences, matters differ. Laws of such sciences as psychology and economics hold only ceteris paribus – that is, when other things are equal. Sometimes events accord with these ceteris (...) paribus laws (c.p. laws, hereafter), but sometimes the laws are not manifest, as if they have somehow been placed in abeyance: the regular relation indicative of natural law can fail in circumstances where an analogous outcome would effectively refute the assertion of strict law. Many authors have questioned the supposed distinction between strict laws and c.p. laws. The brief against it comprises various considerations: from the complaint that c.p. clauses are void of meaning to the claim that, although understood well enough, they should appear in all law-statements. These two concerns, among others, are addressed in due course, but first, I venture a positive proposal. I contend that there is an important contrast between strict laws and c.p. laws, one that rests on an independent distinction between combinatorial and noncombinatorial nomic principles.2 Instantiations of certain properties, e.g., mass and charge, nomically produce individual forces, or more generally, causal influences,3 in accordance with noncombinatorial.. (shrink)
This is a rewarding book. In terms of area, it has one foot firmly planted in metaphysics and the other just as firmly set in the philosophy of science. Nature's Metaphysics is distinctive for its thorough and detailed defense of fundamental, natural properties as essentially dispositional and for its description of how these dispositional properties are thus suited to sustain the laws of nature as (metaphysically) necessary truths.
Scientific essentialism aims to account for the natural laws' special capacity to support counterfactuals. I argue that scientific essentialism can do so only by resorting to devices that are just as ad hoc as those that essentialists accuse Humean regularity theories of employing. I conclude by offering an account of the laws' distinctive relation to counterfactuals that portrays laws as contingent but nevertheless distinct from accidents by virtue of possessing a genuine variety of necessity.
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 book is written by someone who holds that physics and the metaphysics of cause and law broadly strive to achieve a common goal: to undstand what our physical system is constituted by, and both how, and why it evolves in the way that it does. It seems to me that the primary tools of the scientist are empirical evidence, mathematics, and although this is perhaps less appreciated, imagination - these are fundamental to any great scientific breakthrough. For us, the (...) metaphysicians, imagination, science, and a priori reasoning form the foundation of our enquiries. I believe that for the metaphysician, reasoning without due consideration of science will inevitably lead to unjustified, and probably false conclusions. In this thesis I provide an analysis of a number of metaphysics of cause and law, as well as a conceptual analysis of both, to show how closely a consistent account of causation must be linked with laws of nature. I then attempt to give metaphysics explanations of our best scientific theories(in particular, least action principles and the general theory of relativity) in terms of the metaphysical views discussed, in order to judge their compatibility with science. I conclude that any successful metaphysic will be a broadly Humean one. (shrink)
Fred Dretske, Michael Tooley, and David Armstrong accept a theory of governing laws of nature according to which laws are atomic states of affairs that necessitate corresponding natural regularities. Some philosophers object to the Dretske/Tooley/Armstrong theory on the grounds that there is no illuminating account of the necessary connection between governing law and natural regularity. In response, Michael Tooley has provided a reductive account of this necessary connection in his book *Causation* (1987). In this essay, I discuss (...) an improved version of his account and argue that it fails. First the account cannot be extended to explain the necessary connection between certain sorts of laws--namely, probabilistic laws and laws relating structural universals--and their corresponding regularities. Second, Tooley's account succeeds only by (very subtly) incorporating primitive necessity elsewhere, so the problem of avoiding primitive necessity is merely relocated. (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)
In this paper, I argue that miracles should not be defined as involving violations of natural laws. They should be defined as signs of particular volitions of the deity or of other supernatural agents. I suggest that one may, without any prior belief in the existence of such supernatural agents, reasonably come to believe that one has witnessed miracles.
Marc Lange’s new book on laws offers a restatement and development of the account he proposed in Natural Laws and Scientific Practice (Oxford University Press, 2000), henceforth NLSP, and the new material is helpfully summarized in the preface. Laws and Lawmakers presents the key idea from NLSP in a rather more reader-friendly manner – this idea being roughly that the difference between laws and accidents is that laws, unlike accidents, form a ‘stable’ set, i.e. a (...) logically closed set of truths such that they would all still hold under any counterfactual supposition consistent with the set. So, for example, the natural laws all still hold under counterfactual suppositions such as ‘had this match been struck …’, ‘had Bill Gates wanted to build a gold cube one mile across’ and so on; thus this set is stable. But the set of laws plus the accidental claim ‘there is no gold cube one mile across’ fails to hold under such counterfactual suppositions because had Bill Gates wanted to build a gold cube one mile across, such a cube might well have come into existence; thus this set is not stable. While the basic outline and defence of this idea is provided in Chapter 1, those wishing to delve into the intricate …. (shrink)
After reviewing several failed arguments that laws cannot change, I use the laws' special relation to counterfactuals to show how temporary laws would have to differ from eternal but time-dependent laws. Then I argue that temporary laws are impossible and that neither Lewis's nor Armstrong's analyses of law nicely accounts for the laws' immutability. *Received September 2006; revised September 2007. ‡Many thanks to John Roberts and John Carroll for valuable comments on earlier drafts, as (...) well as to several anonymous referees for their good suggestions. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina, CB #3125, Caldwell Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3125; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
The 'best-system' analysis of lawhood [Lewis 1994] faces the 'zero-fit problem': that many systems of laws say that the chance of history going actually as it goes--the degree to which the theory 'fits' the actual course of history--is zero. Neither an appeal to infinitesimal probabilities nor a patch using standard measure theory avoids the difficulty. But there is a way to avoid it: replace the notion of 'fit' with the notion of a world being typical with respect to a (...) theory. (shrink)
The 'best-system' analysis of lawhood [Lewis 1994] faces the 'zero-fit problem': that many systems of laws say that the chance of history going actually as it goes--the degree to which the theory 'fits' the actual course of history--is zero. Neither an appeal to infinitesimal probabilities nor a patch using standard measure theory avoids the difficulty. But there is a way to avoid it: replace the notion of 'fit' with the notion of a world being typical with respect to a (...) theory. (shrink)
Where to begin? I’ll take three books from my shelves. First, now nearly forty years old, a little book of television lectures by the great physicist Richard Feynman, The Character of Physical Law. He talks about the laws of motion, the inverse square law of gravitation, conservation laws, symmetry principles and the various ways these all hang together. Feynman obviously takes it that it is a prime aim of science to discover such laws. But what are (...) class='Hi'>laws? He writes – and this is about his one and only shot at a characterization at the level of abstraction that we might think of as philosophical –. (shrink)
This paper argues that throughout his intellectual career, Hobbes remains unsatisfied with his own attempts at proving the invariant advisability of contract-keeping. Not only does he see himself forced to abandon his early idea that contractual obligation is a matter of physical laws. He also develops and retains doubts concerning its theoretical successor, the doctrine that the obligatoriness characteristic of contracts is the interest in self-preservation in alliance with instrumental reason - i.e. prudence. In fact, it is during his (...) work on Leviathan that Hobbes notes the doctrine's main shortcoming, namely the limitation of its dialectical potential to cases in which contract-breakers are publicly identifiable. This essay shows Hobbes's doubts about his Leviathan's treatment of contractual obligation by way of a close reading of its central 15 th chapter and an analysis of some revealing shifts between the English Leviathan and the (later) Latin edition. The paper ends by suggesting that Hobbes's awareness of the flaws at the heart of his political philosophy helps account for some striking changes in his latest writings. (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)
Why should science be so interested in discovering whether p is a law over and above whether p is true? The answer may involve the laws' relation to counterfactuals: p is a law iff p would still have obtained under any counterfactual supposition that is consistent with the laws. But unless we already understand why science is especially concerned with the laws, we cannot explain why science is especially interested in what would have happened under those counterfactual (...) suppositions consistent with the laws. It is argued that the laws form the only non-trivially "stable" set, where "stability" is invariance under a certain range of counterfactual suppositions not itself defined by reference to the laws. It is then explained why science should be so interested in identifying a non-trivially "stable" set: because of stability's relation to the best set of "inductive strategies". (shrink)
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's 'Philosophy of Nature' has often been accused of promoting a view of nature fundamentally at odds with the modern scientific understanding of nature. I show this accusation to be false by pointing to two aspects of Hegel's treatment of nature: its rejection of the 'a priori/a posteriori' distinction, and its connection to Hegel's conception of autonomy as freedom from givenness. I give a reading of Hegel's treatment of the laws of motion (...) along these lines, and I close with some points connecting this reading of Hegel to contemporary philosophy (specifically John McDowell and Catherine Malabou). (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)
In this set of previously unpublished essays, noted scholars from North America and Europe describe how the Irish philosopher George Berkeley (1684-1753) continues to inspire debates about his views on knowledge, reality, God, freedom, mathematics, and religion. Here discussions about Berkeley's account of physical objects, minds, and God's role in human experience are resolved within explicitly ethical and theological contexts. This collection uses debates about Berkeley's immaterialism and theory of ideas to open up a discussion of how divine activity and (...) human experience are reconciled in a recurring appeal to the laws of nature. In that context, objects in the world are linked to one another by means of the perceptions and affections whereby minds come into being. The laws of nature thus become crucial for Berkeley in revealing how objects are unintelligible apart from being apprehended by minds that are themselves connected to one another in virtue of their ideas. -/- Overall, the essays indicate that, for Berkeley, our apprehension of the world as real depends on recognizing how the world expressed by our ideas is not a mere aggregate of disconnected bodies but is rather an integrated unity of the things we experience. This provides an antidote against the loss of unity created by Descartes' isolation of the self from nature and Locke's account of objects in terms of simple, discrete ideas. -/- In juxtaposing discussions of Berkeley's later writings with his earlier works, this volume shows not only how, for Berkeley, mind is intrinsically linked to things in nature as the principle of their determination in law-governed ways, but also how minds are practically related to the objects of the physical world, one another, and ultimately God. (shrink)
The problem of knowledge has been centred around the study of the content of our consciousness, seeing the world through internal representation, without any satisfactory account of the operations of nature that would be a pre-condition for our own performances in terms of concept efficiency in organizing action externally. If we want to better understand where and how meaning fits in nature, we have to find the proper way to decipher its organization, and account for the fact that (...) we have found codes and replicators operating at a deep levels of analysis. Informational analysis deals with units of organizational stability but it takes them for granted and leaves open the question of their origin. Patterns are used when we recognize the same configurations at different places and try to explain through their recurrence, yet to make sense of the presence of signals and counter-balancing mechanisms disseminated in nature, a hypothesis is offered to the effect that feedback signals would have a role to play in the coming about of a world that is open to new configurations and submitted to a form of stability that is more attuned to system laws than overarching unrevisable ones. (shrink)
Humeans and non-Humeans reasonably agree that there may be necessary connections between entities that are identical or merely partly distinct—between, e.g., sets and their individual members, fusions and their individual parts, instances of determinates and determinables, members of certain natural kinds and certain of their intrinsic properties, and (especially among physicalists) certain physical and mental states. Humeans maintain, however, that as per “Hume’s Dictum”, there are no necessary connections between entities that are wholly distinct;1 and in particular, no necessary causal (...) connections between such entities (even when the background conditions requisite for causation are in place). The Humean’s differential treatment appears principled, in reflecting that commonly accepted necessary connections involve constitutional relations, whereas wholly distinct entities (notably, causes and effects) do not constitute each other. I’ll argue, however, that the appearance of principle is not genuine, as per the following conditional: Constitutional→Causal: If one accepts certain constitutional necessities, one should accept certain causal necessities. This result provides needed leverage in assessing the two main frameworks in the metaphysics of science, treating natural kinds, causes, laws of nature, and the like. These frameworks differ primarily on whether Hume’s Dictum is taken as a working constraint on theorizing; and it has proved difficult for either side to criticize the other without presupposing their preferred stance on the dictum, hence talking past one another. The arguments for Constitutional→Causal are based, however, in general and independent considerations about what facts in the world might plausibly warrant our beliefs in certain constitutional necessities involving broadly scientific entities. The Humean can respond to these arguments, which reveal a deep tension in their view, at attendant costs of implausibilty and adhocery. The non-Humean framework doesn’t face any such tension between constitutional and causal necessities, however, and so in this respect comes out ahead. (shrink)
This paper concerns anti-Humean intuitions about connections in nature. It argues for the existence of a de re link that is not necessity.Some anti-Humeans tacitly assume that metaphysical necessity can be used for all sorts of anti-Humean desires. Metaphysical necessity is thought to stick together whatever would be loose and separate in a Hume world, as if it were a kind of universal superglue.I argue that this is not feasible. Metaphysical necessity might connect synchronically co-existent properties—kinds and their essential (...) features, for example—but it is difficult to see how it could also serve as the binding force for successions of events. That is, metaphysical necessity seems not to be fit for diachronic, causal affairs in which causal laws, causation, or dispositions are involved. A different anti-Humean connection in nature has to do that job.My arguments focus mainly on a debate which has been the battleground for Humean vs. anti-Humean intuitions for many decades—namely, the analysis of dispositional predicates—yet I believe (but do not argue here) that the arguments generalise to causation and causal laws straightforwardly. (shrink)
To answer the question, we need first to consider the notion of necessity and the related notion of contingency. These are so-called "modal" notions. Other modal notions include those of possibility, impossibility, non-necessity, and noncontingency. All play a crucial role in philosophical thinking about matters to do with logic, metaphysics, morality, law, etc. This is because none of these modal notions is univocal in meaning. There are, so to speak, different "species" of the generic notions of necessity, contingency, possibility, and (...) the rest. (shrink)
In this book, S. A. Lloyd offers a radically new interpretation of Hobbes's laws of nature, revealing them to be not egoistic precepts of personal prudence but rather moral instructions for obtaining the common good.
Metaphysicians play an important role in our understanding of the universe. In recent years, physicists have focussed on finding accurate mathematical formalisms of the evolution of our physical system - if a metaphysician can uncover the metaphysical underpinnings of these formalisms; that is, why these formalisms seem to consistently map the universe, then our understanding of the world and the things in it is greatly enhanced. Science, then, plays a very important role in our project, as the best scientific formalisms (...) provide us with what we, as metaphysicians, should be trying to interpret. In this thesis I examine existing metaphysical views of what a law is (both from a conceptual and from a metaphysical perspective), to show how closely causation is linked to laws, and to provide a priori arguments for and against each of these positions. Ultimately, I aim to provide an analysis of a number of metaphysics of natural laws and causation, apply these accounts to our best scientific theories, and see how these metaphysics fit in with our concepts of cause and law. Although I do not attempt a definitive metaphysical account myself, I conclude that any successful metaphysic will be a broadly Humean one, and furthermore that given the concepts of cause and law that shall be agreed upon, Humean theories allow for there to be causal sequences and laws (in line with our concepts) in the world. (shrink)
State of nature or Eden? -- Hobbes' state of nature as an account of the fall? -- Hobbes' own belief or unbelief -- The contemporary reaction to Leviathan -- Hobbes and commentaries on Genesis -- A note on method and chapter order -- Good and evil -- Hobbes on good and evil -- The 'seditious doctrines' of the schoolmen -- The contemporary reaction -- The scriptural account -- The state of nature as an account of the fall? (...) -- Equality and unsociability -- Hobbes and natural equality -- The contemporary reaction -- The scriptural account -- Hobbes on natural unsociability -- The contemporary reaction -- The scriptural account -- State of nature as Eden? -- The war of all against all -- Hobbes' war of all against all -- The contemporary reaction -- The scriptural account -- State of nature as fallen condition? -- The right and law of nature -- Hobbes and natural right -- The contemporary reaction -- Hobbes and natural law -- The contemporary reaction -- The scriptural account -- Hobbes as reformed theologian? -- The creation of society -- Hobbes on the escape from the state of nature -- The contemporary reaction : Hobbes versus divine right -- The scriptural account of Cain building a city -- Hobbes on the creation of the commonwealth -- The contemporary reaction : Hobbes versus the patriarchalists -- The scriptural account of the relationship between Adam and Eve -- State of nature as Eden, the process of the fall, and the fallen condition? -- Reading Hobbes' state of nature -- Anti-aristotelianism -- Hobbes' Protestantism. (shrink)