Humeanism and Nonhumeanism about Laws

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian J. Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
About this topic
Summary Anti-Humeans have the feeling that natural laws govern the events in the world: what a law says must happen (or, what a law forbids can’t happen). This intuition might partially originate in our actual day-to-day experiences when we feel resistance against some of our actions. Some goals are not merely difficult to achieve, they are  impossible: we cannot, unaided, jump 10m high. In concert with the facts about our current body mass, leg muscles, and the earth’s gravitational field, the laws of nature prohibit this kind of leap. For Humeans, laws have more of a descriptive character: the laws are (merely) accurate reports of what regularly happens or is universally the case. This intuition comes from the observation that nature seems to be uniform. Alleged laws like Boyle's law (which says that for a fixed amount of an ideal gas kept at a fixed temperature, pressure and volume are inversely proportional (pV=k)) or Einstein’s famous mass-energy equivalence (E=mc2) record these universal regularities. Those who hold the anti-Humean, first intuition (that the laws necessitate what happens and prohibit what does not happen) do not think the second intuition is wrong. In fact, if, what the laws say, must happen, then it also does happen and we get the regularities for free. The necessities in nature supposedly produce the regularities and thus explain why they are there. Yet, those who subscribe to some kind of regularity view deny that laws necessitate anything because they usually agree with David Hume that the postulation of necessity in nature is suspect.
Key works The most important Humean view comes from David Lewis: Lewis 2001  (esp. pp. 73-77), Lewis 1999  (esp. pp. 8-55 and 224-247). The orthodox anti-Humean accounts are in Armstrong, Tooley, and Dretske: Armstrong 1983Tooley 1997Dretske 1977. Modern anti-Humean accounts come, for example, from dispositionalists: Mumford & Anjum 2011, Bird 2007Ellis 2001
Introductions Psillos 2002
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190 found
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  1. Humean Laws and Pattern-Subsuming Explanations.Callum Duguid - manuscript
    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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  2. Hume and the Laws of Nature.Michael Jacovides - manuscript
  3. Hypertemporal Humeanism and the Open Future.Benjamin Smart - manuscript
    Take strong open-future Humeanism (OFH) to comprise the following three tenets: (i) that truth supervenes on being (ii) that there is a dynamic present moment, and (iii) that there are no future facts; that is, contingent propositions about the future obtain truth values only when their referents are actualised (Tooley 1997). On the face of it this is a deeply problematic metaphysic - if there are no future facts then prima facie the Humean can neither provide laws of nature, nor (...)
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  4. Nomothetic Explanation and Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
    Humeanism about laws of nature — the view that the laws reduce to the Humean mosaic — is a popular view, but currently existing versions face powerful objections. The non-supervenience objection, the non-fundamentality objection and the explanatory circularity objection have all been thought to cause problems for the Humean. However, these objections share a guiding thought — they are all based on the idea that there is a certain kind of divergence between the practice of science and the metaphysical picture (...)
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  5. Humean Laws, Circularity, and Contrastivity.Pablo Carnino - forthcoming - Synthese:1-19.
    A well-known objection to Humean accounts of laws charges them with circularity. While the view has it that particular facts explain the natural laws, natural laws are often relied upon in order to explain particular facts. Thus, the Humean is committed to circular explanations—or so goes the argument. In this paper, I review two ways of dealing with the circularity objection against Humean views of laws. Then, by introducing a contrastive treatment of explanations, I put forward a new one, which, (...)
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  6. The Past Hypothesis and the Nature of Physical Laws.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Barry Loewer, Eric Winsberg & Brad Weslake (eds.), Time's Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World. Harvard University Press.
    If the Past Hypothesis underlies the arrows of time, what is the status of the Past Hypothesis? In this paper, I examine the role of the Past Hypothesis in the Boltzmannian account and defend the view that the Past Hypothesis is a candidate fundamental law of nature. Such a view is known to be compatible with Humeanism about laws, but as I argue it is also supported by a minimal non-Humean "governing'' view. Some worries arise from the non-dynamical and time-dependent (...)
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  7. Quantum Mechanics in a Time-Asymmetric Universe: On the Nature of the Initial Quantum State.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axy068.
    In a quantum universe with a strong arrow of time, we postulate a low-entropy boundary condition to account for the temporal asymmetry. In this paper, I show that the Past Hypothesis also contains enough information to simplify the quantum ontology and define a unique initial condition in such a world. First, I introduce Density Matrix Realism, the thesis that the quantum universe is described by a fundamental density matrix that represents something objective. This stands in sharp contrast to Wave Function (...)
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  8. 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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  9. 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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  10. The Nomological Argument for the Existence of God.Tyler Hildebrand & Thomas Metcalf - forthcoming - Noûs.
    According to the Nomological Argument, observed regularities in nature are best explained by an appeal to a supernatural being. A successful explanation must avoid two perils. Some explanations provide too little structure, predicting a universe without regularities. Others provide too much structure, thereby precluding an explanation of certain types of lawlike regularities featured in modern scientific theories. We argue that an explanation based in the creative, intentional action of a supernatural being avoids these two perils whereas leading competitors do not. (...)
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  11. 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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  12. Reconsidering the Dispositional Essentialist Canon.Samuel Kimpton-Nye - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-21.
    Dispositional Essentialism is a unified anti-Humean account of the metaphysics of low-level physical properties and laws of nature. In this paper, I articulate the view that I label Canonical Dispositional Essentialism (CDE), which comprises a structuralist metaphysics of properties and an account of laws as relations in the property structure. I then present an alternative anti-Humean account of properties and laws (still somewhat in the dispositional essentialist spirit). This account rejects CDE’s structuralist metaphysics of properties in favour of a view (...)
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  13. Humeans Are Out of This World.Erica Shumener - forthcoming - Synthese.
    I defend the following argument in this paper. Premise 1: Laws of nature are intrinsic to the universe. Premise 2: Humeanism maintains that laws of nature are extrinsic to the universe. Conclusion: Humeanism is false. This argument is inspired by John Hawthorne’s (2004) argument in “Why Humeans are out of their Minds”. My argument differs from his; Hawthorne focuses on Humean views of causation and how they interact with judgments about consciousness. He thinks Humeans are forced to treat certain mental (...)
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  14. 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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  15. Induction and the Glue of the World.Harjit Bhogal - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):319-333.
    Views which deny that there are necessary connections between distinct existences have often been criticized for leading to inductive skepticism. If there is no glue holding the world together then there seems to be no basis on which to infer from past to future. However, deniers of necessary connections have typically been unconcerned. After all, they say, everyone has a problem with induction. But, if we look at the connection between induction and explanation, we can develop the problem of induction (...)
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  16. Typicality of Dynamics and the Laws of Nature.Aldo Filomeno - 2021 - In Cristian Soto (ed.), Current Debates in Philosophy of Science: In Honor of Roberto Torretti. Synthese Library Series, Springer.
    Certain results, most famously in classical statistical mechanics and complex systems, but also in quantum mechanics and high-energy physics, yield a coarse-grained stable statistical pattern in the long run. The explanation of these results shares a common structure: the results hold for a 'typical' dynamics, that is, for most of the underlying dynamics. In this paper I argue that the structure of the explanation of these results might shed some light --a different light-- on philosophical debates on the laws of (...)
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  17. No Laws and (Thin) Powers in, No (Governing) Laws Out.Stavros Ioannidis, Vassilis Livanios & Stathis Psillos - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-26.
    Non-Humean accounts of the metaphysics of nature posit either laws or powers in order to account for natural necessity and world-order. We argue that such monistic views face fundamental problems. On the one hand, neo-Aristotelians cannot give unproblematic power-based accounts of the functional laws among quantities offered by physical theories, as well as of the place of conservation laws and symmetries in a lawless ontology; in order to capture these characteristics, commitment to governing laws is indispensable. On the other hand, (...)
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  18. 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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  19. What Does the World Look Like According to Superdeterminism?Augustin Baas & Baptiste Le Bihan - 2020 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    The violation of Bell inequalities seems to establish an important fact about the world: that it is non-local. However, this result relies on the assumption of the statistical independence of the measurement settings with respect to potential past events that might have determined them. Superdeterminism refers to the view that a local, and determinist, account of Bell inequalities violations is possible, by rejecting this assumption of statistical independence. We examine and clarify various problems with superdeterminism, looking in particular at its (...)
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  20. Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (8):1-10.
    Humeanism about laws of nature is, roughly, the view that the laws of nature are just patterns, or ways of describing patterns, in the mosaic of events. In this paper I survey some of the (many!) objections that have been raised to Humeanism, considering how the Humean might respond. And I consider how we might make a positive case for Humeanism. The common thread running through all this is that the viability of the Humean view relies on the Humean having (...)
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  21. Alien Worlds, Alien Laws, and the Humean Conceivability Argument.Lok-Chi Chan, David Braddon-Mitchell & Andrew James Latham - 2020 - Ratio 33 (1):1-13.
    Monism is our name for a range of views according to which the connection between dispositions and their categorical bases is intimate and necessary, or on which there are no categorical bases at all. In contrast, Dualist views hold that the connection between dispositions and their categorical bases is distant and contingent. This paper is a defence of Monism against an influential conceivability argument in favour of Dualism. The argument suggests that the apparent possibility of causal behaviour coming apart from (...)
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  22. On the Very Idea of Distant Correlations.Márton Gömöri - 2020 - Foundations of Physics 50 (6):530-554.
    Contemporary debate over laws of nature centers around Humean supervenience, the thesis that everything supervenes on the distribution of non-nomic facts. The key ingredient of this thesis is the idea that nomic-like concepts—law, chance, causation, etc.—are expressible in terms of the regularities of non-nomic facts. Inherent to this idea is the tacit conviction that regularities, “constant conjunctions” of non-nomic facts do supervene on the distribution of non-nomic facts. This paper raises a challenge for this conviction. It will be pointed out (...)
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  23. Non‐Humean Theories of Natural Necessity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (5):1-1.
    Non‐Humean theories of natural necessity invoke modally‐laden primitives to explain why nature exhibits lawlike regularities. However, they vary in the primitives they posit and in their subsequent accounts of laws of nature and related phenomena (including natural properties, natural kinds, causation, counterfactuals, and the like). This article provides a taxonomy of non‐Humean theories, discusses influential arguments for and against them, and describes some ways in which differences in goals and methods can motivate different versions of non‐Humeanism (and, for that matter, (...)
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  24. Platonic Laws of Nature.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):365-381.
    David Armstrong accepted the following three theses: universals are immanent, laws are relations between universals, and laws govern. Taken together, they form an attractive position, for they promise to explain regularities in nature—one of the most important desiderata for a theory of laws and properties—while remaining compatible with naturalism. However, I argue that the three theses are incompatible. The basic idea is that each thesis makes an explanatory claim, but the three claims can be shown to run in a problematic (...)
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  25. Individuation and Explanation: A Problem for Dispositionalism.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (12):3863-3883.
    According to dispositionalism, fundamental properties are dispositions—powers that don’t reduce to other properties, laws, or anything else. As dispositions manifest, natural regularities result, so this view appears to explain the uniformity of nature. However, in this paper I’ll argue that there are types of regularities that can’t be explained by dispositionalism. The basic idea is this. All accounts of fundamental dispositions endow properties with a certain sort of structure. This allows explanations of only those regularities that align with such structures. (...)
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  26. 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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  27. The oldest solution to the circularity problem for Humeanism about the laws of nature.David Mark Kovacs - 2020 - Synthese:1-21.
    According to Humeanism about the laws, the laws of nature are nothing over and above certain kinds of regularities about particular facts. Humeanism has often been accused of circularity: according to scientific practice laws often explain their instances, but on the Humean view they also reduce to the mosaic, which includes those instances. In this paper I formulate the circularity problem in a way that avoids a number of controversial assumptions routinely taken for granted in the literature, and against which (...)
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  28. 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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  29. 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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  30. 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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  31. Metaphysical Essays - Reductionism, Laws of Nature, and Modal Semantics.Vivek Chandy Mathew - 2020 - Dissertation, Cornell University
  32. 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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  33. Time, Leeway, and the Laws of Nature: Why Humean Compatibilists Cannot Be Eternalists.Andrei A. Buckareff - 2019 - Metaphysica 20 (1):51-71.
    Humean compatibilism combines a Humean conception of laws of nature with a strong dual-ability condition for free will that requires that agents possess the ability to decide differently when they make a free decision. On the Humean view of laws of nature, laws of nature are taken to be contingent non-governing descriptions of significant regularities that obtain in the entire history of the universe. On Humean compatibilism, agents are taken to possess dual ability when making free decisions because what the (...)
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  34. Best Before Date Necessity: A Reply to Psillos.Eduardo Castro - 2019 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 50 (1):163-169.
    This discussion paper is a reply to Stathis Psillos’ paper “Induction and Natural Necessities” :327–340, (2017), published in this journal. In that paper, he attempts to refute David Armstrong’s solution to the problem of induction. To accomplish this desideratum, he proposes that the best explanation for our observed regularities is a sort of “best before date” necessity. That is, necessary connections may break down and are not by default timeless. He develops arguments against my :67–82, (2014) defence of the necessitarian (...)
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  35. Realism About the Wave Function.Eddy Keming Chen - 2019 - Philosophy Compass 14 (7).
    A century after the discovery of quantum mechanics, the meaning of quantum mechanics still remains elusive. This is largely due to the puzzling nature of the wave function, the central object in quantum mechanics. If we are realists about quantum mechanics, how should we understand the wave function? What does it represent? What is its physical meaning? Answering these questions would improve our understanding of what it means to be a realist about quantum mechanics. In this survey article, I review (...)
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  36. Mentaculus Laws and Metaphysics.Heather Demarest - 2019 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 23 (3):387--399.
    The laws of nature are central to our understanding of the world. And while there is often broad agreement about the technical formulations of the laws, there can be sharp disagreement about the metaphysical nature of the laws. For instance, the Newtonian laws of nature can be stated and analyzed by appealing to a set of possible worlds. Yet, some philosophers argue the worlds are mere notational devices, while others take them to be robust, concrete entities in their own right. (...)
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  37. 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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  38. 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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  39. 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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  40. Stable Regularities Without Governing Laws?Aldo Filomeno - 2019 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 66:186-197.
    Can stable regularities be explained without appealing to governing laws or any other modal notion? In this paper, I consider what I will call a ‘Humean system’—a generic dynamical system without guiding laws—and assess whether it could display stable regularities. First, I present what can be interpreted as an account of the rise of stable regularities, following from Strevens [2003], which has been applied to explain the patterns of complex systems (such as those from meteorology and statistical mechanics). Second, since (...)
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  41. Scientific Practice and the Epistemology of Governing Laws.Tyler Hildebrand - 2019 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 5 (2):174-188.
    This article is concerned with the relationship between scientific practice and the metaphysics of laws of nature and natural properties. I begin by examining an argument by Michael Townsen Hicks and Jonathan Schaffer that an important feature of scientific practice—namely, that scientists sometimes invoke non-fundamental properties in fundamental laws—is incompatible with metaphysical theories according to which laws govern. I respond to their argument by developing an epistemology for governing laws that is grounded in scientific practice. This epistemology is of general (...)
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  42. 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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  43. Local Qualities.Elizabeth Miller - 2019 - In Karen Bennett & Dean Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, 11. Oxford University Press. pp. 224-242.
    For Humean atomists, cosmic contents supervene on a spatiotemporal mosaic of modally insulated, freely recombinable local qualities. One piecemeal subspecies of Humean atomism promises more than global supervenience—somehow or other—on a separable base; it constrains how exactly elemental inputs yield everything else. Roughly, the distribution of basic local qualities across elements in one part of our cosmos metaphysically suffices for the complete local physical state of that part: anything sharing this part’s basic elemental decoration should share its more complete contents, (...)
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  44. 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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  45. 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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  46. 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.
  47. Are Laws of Nature Consistent with Contingency?Nancy Cartwright & Pedro Merlussi - 2018 - In Walter Ott & Lydia Patton (eds.), Laws of Nature. Oxford, UK:
    Are the laws of nature consistent with contingency about what happens in the world? That depends on what the laws of nature actually are, but it also depends on what they are like. The latter is the concern of this chapter, which looks at three views that are widely endorsed: ‘Humean’ regularity accounts, laws as relations among universals, and disposition/powers accounts. Given an account of what laws are, what follows about how much contingency, and of what kinds, laws allow? In (...)
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  48. Metaphysics of Laws and Ontology of Time.Cord Friebe - 2018 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 33 (1):77-89.
    At first glance, every metaphysics of laws can be combined with every ontology of time. In contrast, the paper intends to show that Humeanism requires eternalism and that Power metaphysics must presuppose an existentially dynamical view of temporal existence, i.e. growing block or presentism. The presented arguments turn out to be completely independent of whether the laws of nature are deterministic or probabilistic: the world is non-productive and static or productively dynamical, the future be ‘open’ or not.
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  49. 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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  50. 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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