Explanation and Laws

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian J. Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
About this topic
Summary A straightforward way to see the connection between laws of nature and explanation is to look at the best known (if today by and large rejected) theory of (scientific) explanation: Hempel and Oppenheim's DN account of explanation where "DN" stands for "deductive-nomological". The deductive part is that the statement that describes the phenomenon the occurrence of which is to be explained (called the "explanandum") should follow logically from those true statements that, together, form the explanation (the explanans). Amongst those latter sentences must be at least one law statement (this is the nomological part; from Greek, nomos=law). Thus, we might explain that this bird is black (the explanandum) by pointing out the fact that it is a raven and quoting the law that ravens are black (the two latter items form the explanans).
Key works Hempel and Oppenheim's DN account of explanation is in Hempel & Oppenheim 1948. Further reading and latest developments are in Bird 1999 and Strevens 2008.
Introductions Psillos 2002
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138 found
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1 — 50 / 138
  1. Strong Determinism.Eddy Keming Chen - manuscript
    A strongly deterministic theory of physics is one that permits exactly one possible history of the universe. In the words of Penrose (1989), "it is not just a matter of the future being determined by the past; the entire history of the universe is fixed, according to some precise mathematical scheme, for all time.” Such an extraordinary feature may appear unattainable in any realistic and simple theory of physics. In this paper, I propose a definition of strong determinism and contrast (...)
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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. If Naturalism is True, Then Scientific Explanation is Impossible.Tomas Bogardus - forthcoming - Religious Studies:1-24.
    I begin by retracing an argument from Aristotle for final causes in science. Then, I advance this ancient thought, and defend an argument for a stronger conclusion: that no scientific explanation can succeed, if Naturalism is true. The argument goes like this: (1) Any scientific explanation can be successful only if it crucially involves a natural regularity. Next, I argue that (2) any explanation can be successful only if it crucially involves no element that calls out for explanation but lacks (...)
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  4. Explaining Experience In Nature: The Foundations Of Logic And Apprehension.Steven Ericsson-Zenith - forthcoming - Institute for Advanced Science & Engineering.
    At its core this book is concerned with logic and computation with respect to the mathematical characterization of sentient biophysical structure and its behavior. -/- Three related theories are presented: The first of these provides an explanation of how sentient individuals come to be in the world. The second describes how these individuals operate. And the third proposes a method for reasoning about the behavior of individuals in groups. -/- These theories are based upon a new explanation of experience in (...)
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  5. How Chance Explains.Michael Townsen Hicks & Alastair Wilson - forthcoming - Noûs.
    What explains the outcomes of chance processes? We claim that their setups do. Chances, we think, mediate these explanations of outcome by setup but do not feature in them. Facts about chances do feature in explanations of a different kind: higher-order explanations, which explain how and why setups explain their outcomes. In this paper, we elucidate this ‘mediator view’ of chancy explanation and defend it from a series of objections. We then show how it changes the playing field in four (...)
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  6. The Power to Govern.Erica Shumener - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
    I provide a new account of what it is for the laws of nature to govern the evolution of events. I locate the source of governance in the content of law propositions. As such, I do not appeal to primitive notions of ground, essence, or production to characterize governance. After introducing the account, I use it to outline previously unrecognized varieties of governance. I also specify that laws must govern to have two theoretical virtues: explanatory power as well as a (...)
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  7. Non-Humean Laws and Scientific Practice.Robert Smithson - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-25.
    Laws of nature have various roles in scientific practice. It is widely agreed that an adequate theory of lawhood ought to align with the roles that scientists assign to the laws. But philosophers disagree over whether Humean laws or non-Humean laws are better at filling these roles. In this paper, I provide a new argument for settling this dispute. I consider (epistemically) possible situations in which scientists receive conclusive evidence that---according to the non-Humean---falsifies their beliefs about the laws, but which---according (...)
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  8. On the Ostrogradski Instability; or, Why Physics Really Uses Second Derivatives.Noel Swanson - 2022 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 73 (1):23-46.
    Candidates for fundamental physical laws rarely, if ever, employ higher than second time derivatives. Easwaran sketches an enticing story that purports to explain away this puzzling fact and thereby provides indirect evidence for a particular set of metaphysical theses used in the explanation. I object to both the scope and coherence of Easwaran's account, before going on to defend an alternative, more metaphysically deflationary explanation: in interacting Lagrangian field theories, it is either impossible or very hard to incorporate higher than (...)
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  9. Lawful Humean Explanations Are Not Circular.Callum Duguid - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6039-6059.
    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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  10. Mechanistic Explanation in Physics.Laura Felline - 2021 - In Eleanor Knox & Alastair Wilson (eds.), The Routledge Companion for Philosophy of Physics. Routledge.
    The idea at the core of the New Mechanical account of explanation can be summarized in the claim that explaining means showing ‘how things work’. This simple motto hints at three basic features of Mechanistic Explanation (ME): ME is an explanation-how, that implies the description of the processes underlying the phenomenon to be explained and of the entities that engage in such processes. These three elements trace a fundamental contrast with the view inherited from Hume and later from strict logical (...)
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  11. A Puzzle About Laws and Explanation.Siegfried Jaag - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):6085-6102.
    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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  12. Varieties of Humeanism: An Introduction.László Kocsis, Tamás Demeter & Iulian D. Toader - 2021 - Synthese 199 (Humeanisms):15069-15086.
  13. Humeanism and laws of nature: scope and limits.Cristián Soto - 2021 - Revista de Humanidades de Valparaíso 17:145-167.
    Nomological Humeanism has developed into a research program encompassing several variations on a single theme, namely, the view that laws are statements about regularities that we find in nature. After briefly revisiting an early form of nomological Humeanism in Hume’s critique of the idea of necessary connection, this article critically examines Lewis’ two-fold approach based on Humean supervenience and the best system account. We shall point out three limits of nomological Humeanism, which are widely recognized in the literature: its inadequacy (...)
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  14. Evidence and Explanation in Kant's Doctrine of Laws.Marius Stan - 2021 - Studi Kantiani 34:141-49.
    I emphasize two merits of Eric Watkins’ account in "Kant on Laws": the strong evidential support it has, and the central place it gives to Kant’s laws of mechanics. Then, I raise two questions for further research. 1. What kind of evidential reasoning confirms a Kantian law? 2. Do natures explain Kantian laws? If so, how?
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  15. The Governance of Laws of Nature: Guidance and Production.Tobias Wilsch - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (3):909-933.
    Realists about laws of nature and their Humean opponents disagree on whether laws ‘govern’. An independent commitment to the ‘governing conception’ of laws pushes many towards the realist camp. Despite its significance, however, no satisfactory account of governance has been offered. The goal of this article is to develop such an account. I base my account on two claims. First, we should distinguish two notions of governance, ‘guidance’ and ‘production’, and secondly, explanatory phenomena other than laws are also candidates for (...)
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  16. Statistical Mechanics and Scientific Explanation: Determinism, Indeterminism and Laws of Nature.Valia Allori (ed.) - 2020 - Singapore: World Scientific.
    The book explores several open questions in the philosophy of statistical mechanics. Each chapter is written by a leading expert in the field. Here is a list of some questions that are addressed in the book: 1) Boltzmann showed how the phenomenological gas laws of thermodynamics can be derived from statistical mechanics. Since classical mechanics is a deterministic theory there are no probabilities in it. Since statistical mechanics is based on classical mechanics, all the probabilities statistical mechanics talks about cannot (...)
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  17. A Deductive-Nomological Model for Mathematical Scientific Explanation.Eduardo Castro - 2020 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 24 (1):1-27.
    I propose a deductive-nomological model for mathematical scientific explanation. In this regard, I modify Hempel’s deductive-nomological model and test it against some of the following recent paradigmatic examples of the mathematical explanation of empirical facts: the seven bridges of Königsberg, the North American synchronized cicadas, and Hénon-Heiles Hamiltonian systems. I argue that mathematical scientific explanations that invoke laws of nature are qualitative explanations, and ordinary scientific explanations that employ mathematics are quantitative explanations. I analyse the repercussions of this deductivenomological model (...)
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  18. How (Not) to Argue Against Brute Fundamentalism.Julio De Rizzo - 2019 - Dialectica 73 (3):395-410.
    This paper is a response to McKenzie (2017). I argue that the case she presents is not a genuine counterexample to the thesis she labels Brute Fundamentalism. My response consists of two main points. First, that the support she presents for considering her case a metaphysical explanation is misguided. Second, that there are principled reasons for doubting that partial explanations in Hempel’s sense, of which her case is an instance, are genuinely explanatory in the first place. Thus McKenzie’s attack on (...)
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  19. 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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  20. Laws and Their Instances.Nina Emery - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (6):1535-1561.
    I present an argument for the view that laws ground their instances. I then outline two important consequences that follow if we accept the conclusion of this argument. First, the claim that laws ground their instances threatens to undermine a prominent recent attempt to make sense of the explanatory power of Humean laws by distinguishing between metaphysical and scientific explanation. And second, the claim that laws ground their instances gives rise to a novel argument against the view that grounding relations (...)
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  21. Levels of Reasons Why and Answers to Why Questions.Insa Lawler - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (1):168-177.
    According to Skow (2016, 2017), correct answers to why-questions only cite causes or grounds, but not non-accidental regularities. Accounts that cite non-accidental regularities typically confuse second-level reasons with first-level reasons. Only causes and grounds are first-level reasons why. Non-accidental regularities are second-level reasons why. I first show that Skow's arguments for the accusation of confusion depend on the independent thesis that only citations of first-level reasons why are (parts of) answers to why-questions. Then, I argue that this thesis is false. (...)
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  22. Laws of Nature, Explanation, and Semantic Circularity.Erica Shumener - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):787-815.
    Humeans and anti-Humeans agree that laws of nature should explain scientifically particular matters of fact. One objection to Humean accounts of laws contends that Humean laws cannot explain particular matters of fact because their explanations are harmfully circular. This article distinguishes between metaphysical and semantic characterizations of the circularity and argues for a new semantic version of the circularity objection. The new formulation suggests that Humean explanations are harmfully circular because the content of the sentences being explained is part of (...)
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  23. A Pragmatist Challenge to Constraint Laws.Holly Andersen - 2018 - Metascience 27 (1):19-25.
    Meta-laws, including conservation laws, are laws about the form of more specific, phenomenological, laws. Lange distinguishes between meta-laws as coincidences, where the meta-law happens to hold because the more specific laws hold, and meta-laws as constraints to which subsumed laws must conform. He defends this distinction as a genuine metaphysical possibility, such that metaphysics alone ought not to rule one way or another, leaving it an open question for physics. Lange’s distinction marks a genuine difference in how a given meta-law (...)
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  24. ¿Es el realista científico un realista de leyes naturales?Edgar Eduardo Rojas Duran - 2018 - Endoxa 41:277.
    In this paper, I argue that if one is already an advocate of scientific realism, then one would be also a realist about laws of nature. To show this, I argue that only scientific realists would accept that non-accidental regularities require explanation and that their genuine explanation is given by laws of nature. Then, from this conclusion, it seems that scientific realists have reason to believe that there are laws of nature in an objective sense. If this is correct, the (...)
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  25. What Would Hume Say? Regularities, Laws, and Mechanisms.Holly Andersen - 2017 - In Phyllis Ilari & Stuart Glennan (eds.), Handbook of Mechanisms and Mechanistic Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 157-168.
    This chapter examines the relationship between laws and mechanisms as approaches to characterising generalizations and explanations in science. I give an overview of recent historical discussions where laws failed to satisfy stringent logical criteria, opening the way for mechanisms to be investigated as a way to explain regularities in nature. This followed by a critical discussion of contemporary debates about the role of laws versus mechanisms in describing versus explaining regularities. I conclude by offering new arguments for two roles for (...)
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  26. ‘Natures’ and ‘Laws’: The Making of the Concept of Law of Nature – Robert Grosseteste (C. 1168–1253) and Roger Bacon.Yael Kedar & Giora Hon - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 61:21-31.
  27. Explanations of Exceptions in Biology: Corrective Asymmetry Versus Autonomy.Jani Raerinne - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):5073-5092.
    It is often argued that biological generalizations have a distinctive and special status by comparison with the generalizations of other natural sciences, such as that biological generalizations are riddled with exceptions defying systematic and simple treatment. This special status of biology is used as a premise in arguments that posit a deprived explanatory, nomological, or methodological status in the biological sciences. I will discuss the traditional and still almost universally held idea that the biological sciences cannot deal with exceptions and (...)
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  28. Explanation, Laws, and Causation.Wei Wang - 2017 - Routledge.
    Scientific explanation, laws of nature and causation are crucial and frontier issues in the philosophy of science. This book studies the complex relationship between the three concepts, aiming to achieve a holistic synthesis about explanation–laws–causation. By reviewing Hempel's Scientific Explanation models and Salmon's three conceptions – the epistemic, modal and ontic conception – the book suggests that laws are essential to explanation and our understanding of laws will help solve the problems of the latter. Concerning the nature of laws, this (...)
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  29. 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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  30. Explaining Laws of Nature: A Metaphysical Investigation Into the Natural Principles Governing the Universe.Siegfried Jaag - 2015 - Dissertation,
  31. Explanatory Asymmetries: Laws of Nature Rehabilitated.Lina Jansson - 2015 - Journal of Philosophy 112 (11):577-599.
    The problem of explanatory non-symmetries provides the strongest reason to abandon the view that laws can figure in explanations without causal underpinnings. I argue that this problem can be overcome. The solution that I propose starts from noticing the importance of conditions of application when laws do explanatory work, and I go on to develop a notion of nomological dependence that can tackle the non-symmetry problem. The strategy is to show how a strong notion of counterfactual dependence as guaranteed by (...)
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  32. Evolutionary Contingency, Stability, and Biological Laws.Jani Raerinne - 2015 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (1):45-62.
    The contingency of biological regularities—and its implications for the existence of biological laws—has long puzzled biologists and philosophers. The best argument for the contingency of biological regularities is John Beatty’s evolutionary contingency thesis, which will be re-analyzed here. First, I argue that in Beatty’s thesis there are two versions of strong contingency used as arguments against biological laws that have gone unnoticed by his commentators. Second, Beatty’s two different versions of strong contingency are analyzed in terms of two different stabilities (...)
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  33. Laws and Explanations in Biology and Chemistry: Philosophical Perspectives and Educational Implications.Zoubeida R. Dagher & Sibel Erduran - 2014 - In Michael R. Matthews (ed.), International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching. Springer. pp. 1203-1233.
    This chapter utilises scholarship in philosophy of biology and philosophy of chemistry to produce meaningful implications for biology and chemistry education. The primary purpose for studying philosophical literature is to identify different perspectives on the nature of laws and explanations within these disciplines. The goal is not to resolve ongoing debates about the nature of laws and explanations but to consider their multiple forms and purposes in ways that promote deep and practical understanding of biological and chemical knowledge in educational (...)
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  34. Can Bare Dispositions Explain Categorical Regularities?Tyler Hildebrand - 2014 - Philosophical Studies 167 (3):569-584.
    One of the traditional desiderata for a metaphysical theory of laws of nature is that it be able to explain natural regularities. Some philosophers have postulated governing laws to fill this explanatory role. Recently, however, many have attempted to explain natural regularities without appealing to governing laws. Suppose that some fundamental properties are bare dispositions. In virtue of their dispositional nature, these properties must be (or are likely to be) distributed in regular patterns. Thus it would appear that an ontology (...)
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  35. The Role of Unification in Micro-Explanations of Physical Laws.Erik Weber & Merel Lefevere - 2014 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 29 (1):41-56.
    In the literature on scientific explanation, there is a classical distinction between explanations of facts and explanations of laws. This paper is about explanations of laws, more specifically mechanistic explanations of laws. We investigate whether providing unificatory information in mechanistic explanations of laws has a surplus value. Unificatory information is information about how the mechanism that explains the law which is our target relates to other mechanisms. We argue that providing unificatory information can lead to explanations with more explanatory power (...)
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  36. Functionalism and The Independence Problems.Darren Bradley - 2013 - Noûs 47 (1):545-557.
    The independence problems for functionalism stem from the worry that if functional properties are defined in terms of their causes and effects then such functional properties seem to be too intimately connected to these purported causes and effects. I distinguish three different ways the independence problems can be filled out – in terms of necessary connections, analytic connections and vacuous explanations. I argue that none of these present serious problems. Instead, they bring out some important and over-looked features of functionalism.
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  37. Idealizacyjny status praw naukowych a ich zastosowanie w praktyce badawczej historyków.Krzysztof Brzechczyn - 2013 - Ruch Filozoficzny 70 (3).
    The aim of this paper is to paraphrase, using the terminological framework of the idealisational theory of science, the issue of the accuracy of explanation. Chris Lorenz, describing the “theoretical historical debate” on the status of scientific laws, mentioned the standpoint of Nancy Cartwright. According to him, this post-positivistic approach introduced new perspectives on understanding lawfulness. The purpose of this paper is to present assumptions of another post-positivistic approach to science, namely an idealizational theory of science and to paraphrase in (...)
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  38. Can Primitive Laws Explain?Tyler Hildebrand - 2013 - Philosophers' Imprint 13:1-15.
    One reason to posit governing laws is to explain the uniformity of nature. Explanatory power can be purchased by accepting new primitives, and scientists invoke laws in their explanations without providing any supporting metaphysics. For these reasons, one might suspect that we can treat laws as wholly unanalyzable primitives. (John Carroll’s *Laws of Nature* (1994) and Tim Maudlin’s *The Metaphysics Within Physics* (2007) offer recent defenses of primitivism about laws.) Whatever defects primitive laws might have, explanatory weakness should not be (...)
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  39. Newton’s “Satis Est”: A New Explanatory Role for Laws.Lina Jansson - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (4):553-562.
    In this paper I argue that Newton’s stance on explanation in physics was enabled by his overall methodology and that it neither committed him to embrace action at a distance nor to set aside philosophical and metaphysical questions. Rather his methodology allowed him to embrace a non-causal, yet non-inferior, kind of explanation. I suggest that Newton holds that the theory developed in the Principia provides a genuine explanation, namely a law-based one, but that we also lack something explanatory, namely a (...)
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  40. Grounding, Scientific Explanation, and Humean Laws.Marc Lange - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 164 (1):255-261.
    It has often been argued that Humean accounts of natural law cannot account for the role played by laws in scientific explanations. Loewer (Philosophical Studies 2012) has offered a new reply to this argument on behalf of Humean accounts—a reply that distinguishes between grounding (which Loewer portrays as underwriting a kind of metaphysical explanation) and scientific explanation. I will argue that Loewer’s reply fails because it cannot accommodate the relation between metaphysical and scientific explanation. This relation also resolves a puzzle (...)
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  41. Idealized Laws and Explanatory Models.José Luis Rolleri - 2013 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):5-27.
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  42. Two Concepts of Law of Nature.Brendan Shea - 2013 - Prolegomena 12 (2):413-442.
    I argue that there are at least two concepts of law of nature worthy of philosophical interest: strong law and weak law. Strong laws are the laws investigated by fundamental physics, while weak laws feature prominently in the “special sciences” and in a variety of non-scientific contexts. In the first section, I clarify my methodology, which has to do with arguing about concepts. In the next section, I offer a detailed description of strong laws, which I claim satisfy four criteria: (...)
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  43. The Explanation of Laws: Some Unfinished Business.Arnold Koslow - 2012 - Journal of Philosophy 109 (8-9):479-502.
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  44. 6.” There Sweep Great General Principles Which All the Laws Seem to Follow.Marc Lange - 2012 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 7:154.
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  45. Explanation of Physical Phenomena by Laws of Nature.Peter Mittelstaedt - 2012 - Epistemologia 2:234-246.
    For an ‘explanation' of physical facts by laws of nature, we have to establish a relation between physical facts and laws of nature. It is an open question, whether the laws of nature govern the facts with necessity or whether the laws are related to the facts merely by supervenience. In addition, it is not quite clear, whether the known laws of physics describe only artificially simplified cases, e.g. isolated situations, or whether the laws of physics actually grasp real facts. (...)
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  46. Why Do Spatiotemporally Restricted Regularities Explain in the Social Sciences?Alex Rosenberg - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):1-26.
    Employing a well-known local regularity from macroeconomics, the Phillips curve, I examine Woodward’s ([2000], [2003]) account of the explanatory power of such historically restricted generalizations and the mathematical models with which they are sometimes associated. The article seeks to show that, pace Woodward, to be explanatory such generalizations need to be underwritten by more fundamental ones, and that rational choice theory would not avail in this case to provide the required underwriting. Examining how such explanatory restricted regularities are underwritten in (...)
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  47. The Explanatory Role of Irreducible Properties.Michael Strevens - 2012 - Noûs 46 (4):754-780.
    I aim to reconcile two apparently conflicting theses: (a) Everything that can be explained, can be explained in purely physical terms, that is, using the machinery of fundamental physics, and (b) some properties that play an explanatory role in the higher level sciences are irreducible in the strong sense that they are physically undefinable: their nature cannot be described using the vocabulary of physics. I investigate the contribution that physically undefinable properties typically make to explanations in the high-level sciences, and (...)
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  48. Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities.Holly K. Andersen - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):325-331.
    Leuridan (2010) argued that mechanisms cannot provide a genuine alternative to laws of nature as a model of explanation in the sciences, and advocates Mitchell’s (1997) pragmatic account of laws. I first demonstrate that Leuridan gets the order of priority wrong between mechanisms, regularity, and laws, and then make some clarifying remarks about how laws and mechanisms relate to regularities. Mechanisms are not an explanatory alternative to regularities; they are an alternative to laws. The existence of stable regularities in nature (...)
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  49. Conservation Laws in Scientific Explanations: Constraints or Coincidences?Marc Lange - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (3):333-352.
    A conservation law in physics can be either a constraint on the kinds of interaction there could be or a coincidence of the kinds of interactions there actually are. This is an important, unjustly neglected distinction. Only if a conservation law constrains the possible kinds of interaction can a derivation from it constitute a scientific explanation despite failing to describe the causal/mechanical details behind the result derived. This conception of the relation between “bottom-up” scientific explanations and one kind of “top-down” (...)
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  50. Counterfactuals All the Way Down?: Marc Lange: Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009, 280 Pp, $99 HB, $24.95 PB.Jim Woodward, Barry Loewer, John W. Carroll & Marc Lange - 2011 - Metascience 20 (1):27-52.
    Counterfactuals all the way down? Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9437-9 Authors Jim Woodward, History and Philosophy of Science, 1017 Cathedral of Learning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA Barry Loewer, Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA John W. Carroll, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695-8103, USA Marc Lange, Department of Philosophy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB#3125—Caldwell Hall, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3125, USA Journal Metascience Online (...)
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