Best-Systems Analyses

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian J. Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
About this topic
Summary The best known Best Systems Account of Laws of Nature is often referred to as the Mill-Ramsey-Lewis account. All three philosophers have formulated versions of it where David Lewis's is the most sophisticated. It says, roughly: Suppose you knew everything about the past, present, and future, all facts, all events, and you organised your entire knowledge as simply as possible in various systems. The statements in these systems must mention natural properties only. A contingent generalisation is, then, a law of nature if and only if it appears as an axiom or theorem in the one system that achieves a far better combination of simplicity, strength and fit than any of the other competing systems. To have strength is to bear a great deal of informational content about the world; to be simple is to state everything in a concise way, not to be redundant, etc., to fit is, especially for the probabilistic laws, to accord as much as possible with the actual outcomes of world history.
Key works The original Best System Analysis is in: Lewis 1973 (pp.73-77); and Lewis 1999 (esp. pp. 8-55 and 224-247). Versions of it that are discussed under the heading Better Best Systems can be found here: Cohen & Callender 2009Schrenk 2006.
Introductions There are no introductions specifically on this subject but see the references in the general entry "Laws of Nature" and here under key works.
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97 found
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  1. Comparing Systems Without Single Language Privileging.Max Bialek - manuscript
    It is a standard feature of the BSA and its variants that systematizations of the world competing to be the best must be expressed in the same language. This paper argues that such single language privileging is problematic because it enhances the objection that the BSA is insufficiently objective, and it breaks the parallel between the BSA and scientific practice by not letting laws and basic kinds be identified/discovered together. A solution to these problems and the ones that prompt single (...)
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  2. The Problem of Disjunctive Explanations.Brad Weslake - manuscript
    I present a problem for theories of explanation, concerning explanations involving disjunctive properties. The problem is particular acute for the explanatory non-fundamentalist, according to whom non-fundamental scientific explanations are sometimes superior to fundamental physical explanations. I criticise solutions to the problem due to Woodward, Strevens and Sober, and Lewis, and then defend a solution inspired by an account of non-fundamental laws recently defended by Callender and Cohen.
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  3. Fine-Tuning Arguments and the Concept of Law.John Halpin - manuscript
    The Myopic Anthropic Principle: an attempt to show that the popular anthropic reasoning of our time — often taken to show that laws of nature are fine-tuned by a god for us — should be seen merely as an indication of fine-tuning by us. This preference for short-sightedness in this case is shown (shown?) to support the best-system account of scientific law.
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  4. From Time Asymmetry to Quantum Entanglement: The Humean Unification.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - Noûs.
    Two of the most difficult problems in the foundations of physics are (1) what gives rise to the arrow of time and (2) what the ontology of quantum mechanics is. I propose a unified 'Humean' solution to the two problems. Humeanism allows us to incorporate the Past Hypothesis and the Statistical Postulate into the best system, which we then use to simplify the quantum state of the universe. This enables us to confer the nomological status to the quantum state in (...)
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  5. Why Do the Laws Support Counterfactuals?Chris Dorst - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-22.
    This paper aims to explain why the laws of nature are held fixed in counterfactual reasoning. I begin by highlighting three salient features of counterfactual reasoning: it is conservative, nomically guided, and it uses hindsight. I then present a rationale for our engagement in counterfactual reasoning that aims to make sense of these features. In particular, I argue that counterfactual reasoning helps us evaluate the evidential relations between unanticipated pieces of evidence and various hypotheses of interest about the history of (...)
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  6. Lawful Humean Explanations Are Not Circular.Callum Duguid - forthcoming - Synthese:1-21.
    A long-standing charge of circularity against regularity accounts of laws has recently seen a surge of renewed interest. The difficulty is that we appeal to laws to explain their worldly instances, but if these laws are descriptions of regularities in the instances then they are explained by those very instances. By the transitivity of explanation, we reach an absurd conclusion: instances of the laws explain themselves. While drawing a distinction between metaphysical and scientific explanations merely modifies the challenge rather than (...)
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  7. A Puzzle About Laws and Explanation.Siegfried Jaag - forthcoming - Synthese:1-18.
    In this paper, we argue that the popular claim that laws of nature explain their instances creates a philosophical puzzle when it is combined with the widely held requirement that explanations need to be underpinned by ‘wordly’ relations. We argue that a “direct solution” to the puzzle that accounts for both explanatory laws and explanatory realism requires endorsing at least a radical metaphysics. Then, we examine the ramifications of a “skeptical solution”, i.e., dissolving it by giving up at least one (...)
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  8. Eternal Worlds and the Best System Account of Laws.Ryan A. Olsen & Christopher Meacham - forthcoming - In Valia Allori (ed.), Statistical Mechanics and Scientific Explanation: Determinism, Indeterminism and Laws of Nature. World Scientific.
    In this paper we apply the popular Best System Account of laws to typical eternal worlds – both classical eternal worlds and eternal worlds of the kind posited by popular contemporary cosmological theories. We show that, according to the Best System Account, such worlds will have no laws that meaningfully constrain boundary conditions. It’s generally thought that lawful constraints on boundary conditions are required to avoid skeptical arguments. Thus the lack of such laws given the Best System Account may seem (...)
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  9. Why Defend Humean Supervenience?Siegfried Jaag & Christian Loew - 2020 - Journal of Philosophy 117 (7):387-406.
    Humean Supervenience is a metaphysical model of the world according to which all truths hold in virtue of nothing but the total spatiotemporal distribution of perfectly natural, intrinsic properties. David Lewis and others have worked out many aspects of HS in great detail. A larger motivational question, however, remains unanswered: As Lewis admits, there is strong evidence from fundamental physics that HS is false. What then is the purpose of defending HS? In this paper, we argue that the philosophical merit (...)
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  10. Humean Laws and (Nested) Counterfactuals.Christian Loew & Siegfried Jaag - 2020 - Philosophical Quarterly 70 (278):93-113.
    Humean reductionism about laws of nature is the view that the laws reduce to the total distribution of non-modal or categorical properties in spacetime. A worry about Humean reductionism is that it cannot motivate the characteristic modal resilience of laws under counterfactual suppositions and that it thus generates wrong verdicts about certain nested counterfactuals. In this paper, we defend Humean reductionism by motivating an account of the modal resilience of Humean laws that gets nested counterfactuals right.
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  11. Making Best Systems Best for Us.Christian Loew & Siegfried Jaag - 2020 - Synthese 197 (6):2525-2550.
    Humean reductionism about laws of nature appears to leave a central aspect of scientific practice unmotivated: If the world’s fundamental structure is exhausted by the actual distribution of non-modal properties and the laws of nature are merely efficient summaries of this distribution, then why does science posit laws that cover a wide range of non-actual circumstances? In this paper, we develop a new version of the Humean best systems account of laws based on the idea that laws need to organize (...)
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  12. What Humeans Should Say About Tied Best Systems.Christian Loew & Siegfried Jaag - 2020 - Analysis 80 (2):273-282.
    The Humean best systems account identifies laws of nature with the regularities in a system of truths that, as a whole, best conforms to scientific standards for theory-choice. A principled problem for the BSA is that it returns the wrong verdicts about laws in cases where multiple systems, containing different regularities, satisfy these standards equally well. This problem affects every version of the BSA because it arises regardless of which standards for theory-choice Humeans adopt. In this paper, we propose a (...)
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  13. Metaphysical Essays - Reductionism, Laws of Nature, and Modal Semantics.Vivek Chandy Mathew - 2020 - Dissertation, Cornell University
  14. Ideal Laws, Counterfactual Preservation, and the Analyses of Lawhood.Peter Tan - 2020 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 98 (3):574-589.
    This paper presents a unified argument against three widely held contemporary analyses of lawhood—Humean reductionism about laws, the dispositionalist view of laws, and the view of laws as relation...
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  15. Humean Laws, Explanatory Circularity, and the Aim of Scientific Explanation.Chris Dorst - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (10):2657-2679.
    One of the main challenges confronting Humean accounts of natural law is that Humean laws appear to be unable to play the explanatory role of laws in scientific practice. The worry is roughly that if the laws are just regularities in the particular matters of fact (as the Humean would have it), then they cannot also explain the particular matters of fact, on pain of circularity. Loewer (2012) has defended Humeanism, arguing that this worry only arises if we fail to (...)
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  16. Towards a Best Predictive System Account of Laws of Nature.Chris Dorst - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):877-900.
    This article argues for a revised best system account of laws of nature. David Lewis’s original BSA has two main elements. On the one hand, there is the Humean base, which is the totality of particular matters of fact that obtain in the history of the universe. On the other hand, there is what I call the ‘nomic formula’, which is a particular operation that gets applied to the Humean base in order to output the laws of nature. My revised (...)
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  17. Are Non-Accidental Regularities a Cosmic Coincidence? Revisiting a Central Threat to Humean Laws.Aldo Filomeno - 2019 - Synthese 1:1-23.
    If the laws of nature are as the Humean believes, it is an unexplained cosmic coincidence that the actual Humean mosaic is as extremely regular as it is. This is a strong and well-known objection to the Humean account of laws. Yet, as reasonable as this objection may seem, it is nowadays sometimes dismissed. The reason: its unjustified implicit assignment of equiprobability to each possible Humean mosaic; that is, its assumption of the principle of indifference, which has been attacked on (...)
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  18. A Quasi-Regularist View of Laws.Nélida Gentile - 2019 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 23 (3):445-459.
    It will be analyzed some views about laws and highlight certain aspects in each of them that, in our opinion, are to the detriment of their plausibility. The views that we will analyze are the standard regularist conception and the most sophisticated variant known as the Mill-Ramsey-Lewis approach, on the one hand, and the necessitarianist versions of David Armstrong and Stephen Mumford, on the other. Finally, we present an alternative proposal that is intermediate between the regularist conception and Mumford’s nomological (...)
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  19. Naturalness Constraints on Best Systems Accounts of Laws.Tyler Hildebrand - 2019 - Ratio 32 (3):163-172.
    According to best systems accounts, laws of nature are generalizations in the best systematization of particular matters of fact. Metrics such as simplicity and strength determine which systematization is best, but these are notoriously language relative. For this reason, David Lewis proposed a constraint on languages of inquiry: all predicates must be natural. This constraint is sometimes interpreted as requiring us to know which natural properties are instantiated in our world prior to scientific theorizing. I argue that this interpretation is (...)
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  20. Berkeley’s Best System: An Alternative Approach to Laws of Nature.Walter Ott - 2019 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 1 (1):4.
    Contemporary Humeans treat laws of nature as statements of exceptionless regularities that function as the axioms of the best deductive system. Such ‘Best System Accounts’ marry realism about laws with a denial of necessary connections among events. I argue that Hume’s predecessor, George Berkeley, offers a more sophisticated conception of laws, equally consistent with the absence of powers or necessary connections among events in the natural world. On this view, laws are not statements of regularities but the most general rules (...)
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  21. Why Humean Causation Is Extrinsic.Daniel Pallies - 2019 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):139-148.
    According to a view that goes by “Humeanism,” causal facts supervene on patterns of worldly entities. The simplest form of Humeanism is the constant conjunction theory: a particular type-F thing causes a particular type-G thing iff (i) that type-Fis conjoined with that type-G thing and (ii) all F’s are conjoined with G’s. The constant conjunction theory implies that all causation is extrinsic, in the following sense: for all positive causal facts pertaining to each possible region,it’s extrinsic to that region that (...)
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  22. Humeanism, Best System Laws, and Emergence.Olivier Sartenaer - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (4):719-738.
    In the current article and contrary to a widespread assumption, I argue that Humeanism and ontological emergence can peacefully coexist. Such a coexistence can be established by reviving elements of John Stuart Mill’s philosophy of science, in which an idiosyncratic account of diachronic emergence is associated with extensions of the Humean mosaic and the correlative coming into being of new best system laws, which have the peculiarity of being temporally indexed. Incidentally, this reconciliation of Humeanism and emergence allows for conceiving (...)
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  23. Compressibility and the Algorithmic Theory of Laws.Billy Wheeler - 2019 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 23 (3):461-485.
    The algorithmic theory of laws claims that the laws of nature are the algorithms in the best possible compression of all empirical data. This position assumes that the universe is compressible and that data received from observing it is easily reproducible using a simple set of rules. However, there are three sources of evidence that suggest that the universe as a whole is incompressible. The first comes from the practice of science. The other two come from the nature of the (...)
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  24. Is It Time for a Nietzschean Genealogy of Laws of Nature?: Walter Ott, Lydia Patton : Laws of Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, X+264pp, $65 HB. [REVIEW]Jason Winning - 2019 - Metascience 28 (2):269-271.
  25. Dynamic Humeanism.Michael Townsen Hicks - 2018 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 69 (4):983-1007.
    Humean accounts of laws of nature fail to distinguish between dynamic laws and static initial conditions. But this distinction plays a central role in scientific theorizing and explanation. I motivate the claim that this distinction should matter for the Humean, and show that current views lack the resources to explain it. I then develop a regularity theory that captures this distinction. My view takes empirical accessibility to be one of the primary features of laws, and I identify features laws must (...)
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  26. Making Best Systems Best for Us.Siegfried Jaag & Christian Loew - 2018 - Synthese:1-26.
    Humean reductionism about laws of nature appears to leave a central aspect of scientific practice unmotivated: If the world’s fundamental structure is exhausted by the actual distribution of non-modal properties and the laws of nature are merely efficient summaries of this distribution, then why does science posit laws that cover a wide range of non-actual circumstances? In this paper, we develop a new version of the Humean best systems account of laws based on the idea that laws need to organize (...)
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  27. The Limits of Humeanism.Jesse Mulder - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):671-687.
    Humeans take reality to be devoid of ‘necessary connections’: things just happen. Laws of nature are to be understood in terms of what ‘just happens’, not vice versa. Here the Humean needs some conception of what it is that ‘just happens’ – a conception of the Humean mosaic. Lewis’s Humeanism incorporates such a conception in the form of a Lewis-style metaphysics of objects, properties, and modality. Newer versions of Humeanism about laws of nature, such as the Better Best Systems approach, (...)
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  28. Intuitions and Assumptions in the Debate Over Laws of Nature.Walter Ott & Lydia Patton - 2018 - In Walter Ott & Lydia Patton (eds.), Laws of Nature. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 1-17.
    The conception of a ‘law of nature’ is a human product. It was created to play a role in natural philosophy, in the Cartesian tradition. In light of this, philosophers and scientists must sort out what they mean by a law of nature before evaluating rival theories and approaches. If one’s conception of the laws of nature is yoked to metaphysical notions of truth and explanation, that connection must be made explicit and defended. If, on the other hand, one’s aim (...)
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  29. Challenging Lewis’s Challenge to the Best System Account of Lawhood.Rafal Urbaniak & Bert Leuridan - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1649-1666.
    David Lewis has formulated a well-known challenge to his Best System account of lawhood: the content of any system whatever can be formulated very simply if one allows for perverse choices of primitive vocabulary. We show that the challenge is not that dangerous, and that to account for it one need not invoke natural properties or relativized versions of the Best System account. This way, we help to move towards an even better Best System account. We discuss extensions of our (...)
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  30. Idealization and the Laws of Nature.Billy Wheeler - 2018 - Switzerland: Springer.
    This new study provides a refreshing look at the issue of exceptions and shows that much of the problem stems from a failure to recognize at least two kinds of exception-ridden law: ceteris paribus laws and ideal laws. Billy Wheeler offers the first book-length discussion of ideal laws. The key difference between these two kinds of laws concerns the nature of the conditions that need to be satisfied and their epistemological role in the law’s formulation and discovery. He presents a (...)
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  31. Interest Relativism in the Best System Analysis of Laws.Max Bialek - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):4643-4655.
    Lewis’ Best System Analysis of laws of nature is often criticized on the grounds that what it means to be the “best” system is too subjective for an analysis of lawhood. Recent proponents of the BSA have embraced the view’s close connection to the particulars of scientific practice despite the objection. I distinguish two compatible versions of the objection: one opposed to mind or subject dependence and the other opposed to relativity. The BSA can answer both. Answering the anti-relative version (...)
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  32. Compressibility, Laws of Nature, Initial Conditions and Complexity.Sergio Chibbaro & Angelo Vulpiani - 2017 - Foundations of Physics 47 (10):1368-1386.
    We critically analyse the point of view for which laws of nature are just a mean to compress data. Discussing some basic notions of dynamical systems and information theory, we show that the idea that the analysis of large amount of data by means of an algorithm of compression is equivalent to the knowledge one can have from scientific laws, is rather naive. In particular we discuss the subtle conceptual topic of the initial conditions of phenomena which are generally incompressible. (...)
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  33. Derivative Properties in Fundamental Laws.Michael Townsen Hicks & Jonathan Schaffer - 2017 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 68 (2).
    Orthodoxy has it that only metaphysically elite properties can be invoked in scientifically elite laws. We argue that this claim does not fit scientific practice. An examination of candidate scientifically elite laws like Newton’s F = ma reveals properties invoked that are irreversibly defined and thus metaphysically non-elite by the lights of the surrounding theory: Newtonian acceleration is irreversibly defined as the second derivative of position, and Newtonian resultant force is irreversibly defined as the sum of the component forces. We (...)
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  34. Naturgesetze.Siegfried Jaag - 2017 - In Markus Schrenk (ed.), Handbuch Metaphysik. Stuttgart, Deutschland: pp. 299-305.
  35. Laws of Nature, Natural Properties, and the Robustly Best System.Michela Massimi - 2017 - The Monist 100 (3):406-421.
    This paper addresses a famous objection against David Lewis’s Best System Analysis (BSA) of laws of nature. The objection—anticipated and discussed by Lewis (1994)—focuses on the standards of simplicity and strength being (in part) a matter of psychology. Lewis’s answer to the objection relies on his metaphysics of natural properties and its ability to single out the robustly best system, a system that is expected to come out far ahead of its rivals under any standard of simplicity and strength. The (...)
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  36. The Emergence of Better Best System Laws.Markus Schrenk - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (3):469-483.
    The better best system account, short BBSA, is a variation on Lewis’s theory of laws. The difference to the latter is that the BBSA suggests that best system analyses can be executed for any fixed set of properties. This affords the possibility to launch system analyses separately for the set of biological properties yielding the set of biological laws, chemical properties yielding chemical laws, and so on for the other special sciences. As such, the BBSA remains silent about possible interrelations (...)
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  37. Humeanism and Exceptions in the Fundamental Laws of Physics.Billy Wheeler - 2017 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 21 (3):317-337.
    It has been argued that the fundamental laws of physics do not face a ‘problem of provisos’ equivalent to that found in other scientific disciplines (Earman, Roberts and Smith 2002) and there is only the appearance of exceptions to physical laws if they are confused with differential equations of evolution type (Smith 2002). In this paper I argue that even if this is true, fundamental laws in physics still pose a major challenge to standard Humean approaches to lawhood, as they (...)
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  38. Consecuencias de Las Interpretaciones Actuales de la Metafísica Humeana En El Debate Sobre Las Leyes de Na Naturaleza.Bruno Borge & Roberto Azar - 2015 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 19 (2):247-262.
    A highly influential position in the debate between nomological realists and antirealists is the regularist theory of laws. Its main feature is the defense of a humean metaphysics which denies the existence of real causal powers and necessary connections in nature. Regularism, however, rely on a traditional reading of Hume’s philosophy. In this paper we aim to revisit the discussion around laws of nature in light of nontraditional interpretations of his work, often labeled as the ‘New Hume’.
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  39. No Work For a Theory of Universals.M. Eddon & Christopher J. G. Meacham - 2015 - In Jonathan Schaffer & Barry Loewer (eds.), A Companion to David Lewis. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 116-137.
    Several variants of Lewis's Best System Account of Lawhood have been proposed that avoid its commitment to perfectly natural properties. There has been little discussion of the relative merits of these proposals, and little discussion of how one might extend this strategy to provide natural property-free variants of Lewis's other accounts, such as his accounts of duplication, intrinsicality, causation, counterfactuals, and reference. We undertake these projects in this paper. We begin by providing a framework for classifying and assessing the variants (...)
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  40. Humean Laws and Circular Explanation.Michael Townsen Hicks & Peter van Elswyk - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (2):433-443.
    Humeans are often accused of accounting for natural laws in such a way that the fundamental entities that are supposed to explain the laws circle back and explain themselves. Loewer (2012) contends this is only the appearance of circularity. When it comes to the laws of nature, the Humean posits two kinds of explanation: metaphysical and scientific. The circle is then cut because the kind of explanation the laws provide for the fundamental entities is distinct from the kind of explanation (...)
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  41. Half-Hearted Humeanism.Aaron Segal - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 9:262-305.
    Many contemporary philosophers endorse the Humean-Lewisian Denial of Absolutely Necessary Connections (‘DANC’). Among those philosophers, many deny all or part of the Humean-Lewisian package of views about causation and laws. I argue that they maintain an inconsistent set of views. DANC entails that (1) causal properties and relations are, with a few possible exceptions, always extrinsic to their bearers, (2) nomic properties and relations are, with a few possible exceptions, always extrinsic to their bearers, and (3) causal and nomic properties (...)
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  42. Better Best Systems and the Issue of CP-Laws.Markus Schrenk - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1787-1799.
    This paper combines two ideas: (1) That the Lewisian best system analysis of lawhood (BSA) can cope with laws that have exceptions (cf. Braddon-Mitchell in Noûs 35(2):260–277, 2001; Schrenk in The metaphysics of ceteris paribus laws. Ontos, Frankfurt, 2007). (2) That a BSA can be executed not only on the mosaic of perfectly natural properties but also on any set of special science properties (cf., inter alia, Schrenk 2007, Selected papers contributed to the sections of GAP.6, 6th international congress of (...)
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  43. What Trans-World Causation Could and Could Not Be.Alessandro Torza - 2014 - Metaphysica 15 (1):187–208.
    Eduardo García-Ramírez has offered a reductio of the counterfactual analysis of causation. The argument purportedly shows that, given a natural generalization of Lewis’ semantics for counterfactuals, statements expressing the existence of causal dependence across worlds are satisfiable. The aim of the present paper is twofold. In the first part, I show that the purported reductio is flawed, as it relies on an overly strong construal of the semantics for counterfactuals. In particular, it is assumed that we can assign a degree (...)
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  44. Do Ceteris Paribus Laws Exist? A Regularity-Based Best System Analysis.Matthias Unterhuber - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1833-1847.
    This paper argues that ceteris paribus (cp) laws exist based on a Lewisian best system analysis of lawhood (BSA). Furthermore, it shows that a BSA faces a second trivialization problem besides the one identified by Lewis. The first point concerns an argument against cp laws by Earman and Roberts. The second point aims to help making some assumptions of the BSA explicit. To address the second trivialization problem, a restriction in terms of natural logical constants is proposed that allows one (...)
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  45. Statistical Mechanical Imperialism.Brad Weslake - 2014 - In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 241-257.
    I argue against the claim, advanced by David Albert and Barry Loewer, that all non-fundamental laws can be derived from those required to underwrite the second law of thermodynamics.
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  46. Simplicity, Language-Dependency and the Best System Account of Laws.Billy Wheeler - 2014 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 31 (2):189-206.
    It is often said that the best system account of laws needs supplementing with a theory of perfectly natural properties. The ‘strength’ and ‘simplicity’ of a system is language-relative and without a fixed vocabulary it is impossible to compare rival systems. Recently a number of philosophers have attempted to reformulate the BSA in an effort to avoid commitment to natural properties. I assess these proposals and argue that they are problematic as they stand. Nonetheless, I agree with their aim, and (...)
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  47. Simplicity in the Best Systems Account of Laws of Nature.James Woodward - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 65 (1):91-123.
    This article discusses the role of simplicity and the notion of a best balance of simplicity and strength within the best systems account (BSA) of laws of nature. The article explores whether there is anything in scientific practice that corresponds to the notion of simplicity or to the trade-off between simplicity and strength to which the BSA appeals. Various theoretical rationales for simplicity preferences and their bearing on the identification of laws are also explored. It is concluded that there are (...)
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  48. Briggs on Antirealist Accounts of Scientific Law.John Halpin - 2013 - Synthese 190 (16):3439–3449.
    Rachel Briggs’ critique of “antirealist” accounts of scientific law— including my own perspectivalist best-system account—is part of a project meant to show that Humean conceptions of scientific law are more problematic than has been commonly realized. Indeed, her argument provides a new challenge to the Humean, a thoroughly epistemic version of David Lewis’ “big, bad bug” for Humeanism. Still, I will argue, the antirealist (perspectivalist and expressivist) accounts she criticizes have the resources to withstand the challenge and come out stronger (...)
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  49. Scientific Practice and Necessary Connections.Andreas Hüttemann - 2013 - Theoria 79 (1):29-39.
    In this paper I will introduce a problem for at least those Humeans who believe that the future is open.More particularly, I will argue that the following aspect of scientific practice cannot be explained by openfuture- Humeanism: There is a distinction between states that we cannot bring about (which are represented in scientific models as nomologically impossible) and states that we merely happen not to bring about. Open-future-Humeanism has no convincing account of this distinction. Therefore it fails to explain why (...)
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  50. Two Accounts of Laws and Time.Barry Loewer - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (1):115-137.
    Among the most important questions in the metaphysics of science are "What are the natures of fundamental laws and chances?" and "What grounds the direction of time?" My aim in this paper is to examine some connections between these questions, discuss two approaches to answering them and argue in favor of one. Along the way I will raise and comment on a number of issues concerning the relationship between physics and metaphysics and consequences for the subject matter and methodology of (...)
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