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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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  1. Blame Not the Laws of Nature.Joseph Agassi - 1995 - Foundations of Science 1 (1):131-154.
    1. Lies, Error and Confusion 2. Lies 3. The Demarcation of Science: Historical 4. The Demarcation of Science: Recent 5. Observed Regularities and Laws of Nature.
  2. Kinds, Laws and Perspectives.Sebastián Álvarez Toledo - 1st ed. 2015 - In Antonio Manuel Liz Gutiérrez & Margarita Vázquez Campos (eds.), Temporal Points of View. Springer Verlag.
    This chapter deals with the main characteristics of natural kinds, and analyzes three approaches to them. The first approach argues that natural kinds are characterized by their essential properties (in a modern, scientific sense), but encounter difficulties even on the physico-chemical level, which is where it seems to be better implemented. On the other hand, the constructivist stance, much more liberal, does not explain why certain kinds are inductively useful and not others. Third, an introduction, with comments, is provided on (...)
  3. 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 (...)
  4. Naturgesetze in einer kausalen Welt.Bartels Andreas - 2015 - mentis.
    How can the laws of nature, that determine how objects behave, be understood as natural objects themselves? The answer that transpires from the analysis of modern theories of the laws of nature is: laws of nature are due to the causal structure of our world. They express the causal efficiacy of fundamental properties of nature. In contrast to rivaling theories, this answer does justice to the fact that laws of nature determine the course of natural events without having to appeal (...)
  5. On Natural Selection and Hume's Second Problem.Armando Aranda-Anzaldo - 1998 - Evolution and Cognition 4 (2):156-172.
    David Hume's famous riddle of induction implies a second problem related to the question of whether the laws and principles of nature might change in the course of time. Claims have been made that modern developments in physics and astrophysics corroborate the translational invariance of the laws of physics in time. However, the appearance of a new general principle of nature, which might not be derivable from the known laws of physics, or that might actually be a non-physical one (this (...)
  6. What is a Law of Nature?A. J. Ayer - 1956 - Revue Internationale de Philosophie 10 (2=36):144.
  7. I Tensed the Laws and the Laws Won: Non-Eternalist Humeanism.Marius Backmann - 2016 - Manuscrito 39 (4):255-277.
    ABSTRACT In this paper, I propose a variant of a Humean account of laws called "Open Future Humeanism", which holds that since the laws supervene partly on future events, there are at any instant infinitely many possible future courses of events. I argue that if one wants to take the openness of the future that OFH proposes ontologically serious, then OFH is best represented within a growing block view of time. I further discuss some of OFH's problems which stem from (...)
  8. Better Best Systems – Too Good To Be True.Marius Backmann & Alexander Reutlinger - 2014 - Dialectica 68 (3):375-390.
    Craig Callender, Jonathan Cohen and Markus Schrenk have recently argued for an amended version of the best system account of laws – the better best system account (BBSA). This account of lawhood is supposed to account for laws in the special sciences, among other desiderata. Unlike David Lewis's original best system account of laws, the BBSA does not rely on a privileged class of natural predicates, in terms of which the best system is formulated. According to the BBSA, a contingently (...)
  9. Measuring and Governing, Review of "The Law-Governed Universe" by John T. Roberts. [REVIEW]Michael Baumgartner - 2010 - Metascience 19 (3):409-412.
  10. The Non-Governing Conception of Laws of Nature.Helen Beebee - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61 (3):571-594.
    Recently several thought experiments have been developed which have been alleged to refute the Ramsey-Lewis view of laws of nature. The paper aims to show that two such thought experiments fail to establish that the Ramsey-Lewis view is false, since they presuppose a conception of laws of nature that is radically at odds with the Humean conception of laws embodied by the Ramsey-Lewis view. In particular, the thought experiments presuppose that laws of nature govern the behavior of objects. The paper (...)
  11. What a Structuralist Theory of Properties Could Not Be.Nora Berenstain - 2016 - In Anna Marmodoro & David Yates (ed.), The Metaphysics of Relations. OUP. Oxford University Press.
    Causal structuralism is the view that, for each natural, non-mathematical, non-Cambridge property, there is a causal profile that exhausts its individual essence. On this view, having a property’s causal profile is both necessary and sufficient for being that property. It is generally contrasted with the Humean or quidditistic view of properties, which states that having a property’s causal profile is neither necessary nor sufficient for being that property, and with the double-aspect view, which states that causal profile is necessary but (...)
  12. Ontic Structural Realism and Modality.Nora Berenstain & James Ladyman - 2012 - In Elaine Landry & Dean Rickles (eds.), Structural Realism: Structure, Object, and Causality. Springer.
    There is good reason to believe that scientific realism requires a commitment to the objective modal structure of the physical world. Causality, equilibrium, laws of nature, and probability all feature prominently in scientific theory and explanation, and each one is a modal notion. If we are committed to the content of our best scientific theories, we must accept the modal nature of the physical world. But what does the scientific realist’s commitment to physical modality require? We consider whether scientific realism (...)
  13. Minimal Anti-Humeanism.Harjit Bhogal - 2016 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (3):447-460.
    There is a tension in our theorizing about laws of nature: our practice of using and reasoning with laws of nature suggests that laws are universal generalizations, but if laws are universal generalizations then we face the problem of explanatory circularity. In this paper I elucidate this tension and show how it motivates a view of laws that I call Minimal Anti-Humeanism. This view says that the laws are the universal generalizations that are not grounded in their instances. I argue (...)
  14. What the Humean Should Say About Entanglement.Harjit Bhogal & Zee R. Perry - 2017 - Noûs 51 (1):n/a-n/a.
    Tim Maudlin has influentially argued that Humeanism about laws of nature stands in conflict with quantum mechanics. Specifically Humeanism implies the principle Separability: the complete physical state of a world is determined by the intrinsic physical state of each space-time point. Maudlin argues Separability is violated by the entangled states posited by QM. We argue that Maudlin only establishes that a stronger principle, which we call Strong Separability, is in tension with QM. Separability is not in tension with QM. Moreover, (...)
  15. The Big Bad Bug: What Are the Humean's Chances?John Bigelow, John Collins & Robert Pargetter - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (3):443-462.
    Humean supervenience is the doctrine that there are no necessary connections in the world. David Lewis identifies one big bad bug to the programme of providing Humean analyses for apparently non-Humean features of the world. The bug is chance. We put the bug under the microscope, and conclude that chance is no special problem for the Humean.
  16. The Epistemological Argument Against Lewis's Regularity View of Laws.Alexander Bird - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (1):73–89.
    I argue for the claim that if Lewis’s regularity theory of laws were true, we could not know any positive law statement to be true. Premise 1: According to that theory, for any law statement true of the actual world, there is always a nearby world where the law statement is false (a world that differs with respect to one matter of particular fact). Premise 2: One cannot know a proposition to be true if it is false in a nearby (...)
  17. The Epistemological Argument Against Lewis’s Regularity View of Laws.Alexander Bird - 2008 - Philosophical Studies 138 (1):73-89.
    I argue for the claim that if Lewis’s regularity theory of laws were true, we could not know any positive law statement to be true. Premise 1: According to that theory, for any law statement true of the actual world, there is always a nearby world where the law statement is false (a world that differs with respect to one matter of particular fact). Premise 2: One cannot know a proposition to be true if it is false in a nearby (...)
  18. A Priori Causal Laws.Darren Bradley - 2017 - Inquiry : An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 60 (4):358-370.
    Sober and Elgin defend the claim that there are a priori causal laws in biology. Lange and Rosenberg take issue with this on Humean grounds, among others. I will argue that Sober and Elgin don’t go far enough – there are a priori causal laws in many sciences. Furthermore, I will argue that this thesis is compatible with a Humean metaphysics and an empiricist epistemology.
  19. Laws of nature and causal powers: Two illusory solutions.Sebastián Briceño - 2015 - Alpha (Osorno) 41:73-85.
    La metafísica de la Superveniencia Humeana ha sido atacada por dos alternativas explícitamente anti-Humeanas: el Realismo Nómico y el Esencialismo Disposicional. Cada una de estas alternativas ofrece una explicación ontológica de la actual distribución de instanciaciones de primer orden. Ambas sostienen, contra el Humeano, que esta distribución no es un accidente metafísico. En este artículo argumento que las explicaciones ofrecidas por ellas son ilusorias. -/- The metaphysics of Humean Supervenience has been attacked by two explicitly anti-Humean alternatives: Nomic Realism and (...)
  20. Platonism and Laws: A Reply to Demetra Sfendoni-Mentzou.James Robert Brown - 1994 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 8 (3):243 – 246.
    his paper is a reply to Demetra Sfendoni‐Mentzou; it defends a realist—indeed a platonist—account of laws of nature.
  21. The Dappled World. [REVIEW]Roger Caldwell - 2000 - Philosophy Now 28:42-43.
  22. Measures, Explanations and the Past: Should ‘Special’ Initial Conditions Be Explained?Craig Callender - 2004 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (2):195-217.
    For the generalizations of thermodynamics to obtain, it appears that a very ‘special’ initial condition of the universe is required. Is this initial condition itself in need of explanation? I argue that it is not. In so doing, I offer a framework in which to think about ‘special’ initial conditions in all areas of science, though I concentrate on the case of thermodynamics. I urge the view that it is not always a serious mark against a theory that it must (...)
  23. Review: Laws in Nature. [REVIEW]J. W. Carroll - 2006 - Mind 115 (459):780-784.
  24. The Humean Tradition.John Carroll - 1990 - Philosophical Review 99 (2):185-219.
  25. Laws of Nature.John W. Carroll - 1994 - Cambridge University Press.
    John Carroll undertakes a careful philosophical examination of laws of nature, causation, and other related topics. He argues that laws of nature are not susceptible to the sort of philosophical treatment preferred by empiricists. Indeed he shows that emperically pure matters of fact need not even determine what the laws are. Similar, even stronger, conclusions are drawn about causation. Replacing the traditional view of laws and causation requiring some kind of foundational legitimacy, the author argues that these phenomena are inextricably (...)
  26. The Nature of Physical Laws.John William Carroll - 1986 - Dissertation, The University of Arizona
    A program for advancing a new philosophical account of physical laws is presented. The program is non-reductive in that it maintains that any correct account of physical laws must recognize law sentences as irreducible--that is, as not admitting of an analysis which does not invoke any unanalyzed nomic facts . The program has the unusual attraction of being consistent with Nominalism and epistemically in the spirit of Empiricism. ;Initially motivating my program is a two-stage attack in chapters two and three (...)
  27. How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
    In this sequence of philosophical essays about natural science, the author argues that fundamental explanatory laws, the deepest and most admired successes of modern physics, do not in fact describe regularities that exist in nature. Cartwright draws from many real-life examples to propound a novel distinction: that theoretical entities, and the complex and localized laws that describe them, can be interpreted realistically, but the simple unifying laws of basic theory cannot.
  28. On Induction: Time-Limited Necessity Vs. Timeless Necessity.Eduardo Castro - 2013 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 33 (3):67-82.
    Abstract: This paper defends David Armstrong’s solution to the problem of inductionb against Helen Beebee’s attack on that solution. To solve theproblem of induction, Armstrong contends that the timeless necessity explanation is the best explanation of our observed regularities, whereas Beebee attempts to demonstrate that the time-limited necessity explanation is an equally good explanation. Allegedly, this explanation blocks Armstrong’s solution. I demonstrate that even if the time-limited ecessity explanation were an equally good explanation of our observed regularities, this explanation does (...)
  29. So the Laws of Physics Needn't Lie.Alan Chalmers - 1993 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 71 (2):196 – 205.
  30. Only Powers Can Confer Dispositions.Gabriele Contessa - 2015 - Philosophical Quarterly 65 (259):160-176.
    According to power theorists, properties are powers—i.e. they necessarily confer on their bearers certain dispositions. Although the power theory is increasingly gaining popularity, a vast majority of analytic metaphysicians still favors what I call ‘the nomic theory’—i.e. the view according to which what dispositions a property confers on its bearers is contingent on what the laws of nature happen to be. This paper argues that the nomic theory is inconsistent, for, if it were correct, then properties would not confer any (...)
  31. Regularity Theories Disconfirmed: A Revamped Argument and a Wager.Patrick Cronin - forthcoming - Synthese:1-21.
    Regularity theories of causation assert that causal or nomic notions are to be reduced into “mere” frequencies of particular, non-nomic, co-located qualities and matters of fact. In this essay, I present a critical exploration of Armstrong and Strawson’s explanatory arguments against regularity theories. The shortcomings of these older arguments for nomic realism are identified and a revamped version which is immune to such problems is outlined and defended. I argue that anti-realism suffers substantial disconfirmation due to its comparative inability to (...)
  32. Laws of Nature and the Reality of the Wave Function.Mauro Dorato - 2015 - Synthese 192 (10):3179-3201.
    In this paper I review three different positions on the wave function, namely: nomological realism, dispositionalism, and configuration space realism by regarding as essential their capacity to account for the world of our experience. I conclude that the first two positions are committed to regard the wave function as an abstract entity. The third position will be shown to be a merely speculative attempt to derive a primitive ontology from a reified mathematical space. Without entering any discussion about nominalism, I (...)
  33. Laws of Nature: The Empiricist Challenge.John Earman - 1984 - In Radu J. Bogdan (ed.), D.M. Armstrong, Volume 4 of the series Profiles. Springer Verlag. pp. 191-223.
    Hume defined ‘cause’ three times over. The two principal definitions (constant conjunction, felt determination) provide the anchors for the two main strands of the modem empiricist accounts of laws of nature 1 while the third (the counter factual definition 2) may be seen as the inspiration of the nonHumean necessitarian analyses. Corresponding to the felt determination definition is the account of laws that emphasizes human attitudes, beliefs, and actions. Latter day weavers of this strand include Nelson Goodman, A. J. Ayer, (...)
  34. Contact with the Nomic: A Challenge for Deniers of Humean Supervenience About Laws of Nature Part I: Humean Supervenience.John Earman & John T. Roberts - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (1):1–22.
    This is the first part of a two-part article in which we defend the thesis of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). According to this thesis, two possible worlds cannot differ on what is a law of nature unless they also differ on the Humean base. The Humean base is easy to characterize intuitively, but there is no consensus on how, precisely, it should be defined. Here in Part I, we present and motivate a characterization of the Humean base (...)
  35. Contact with the Nomic: A Challenge for Deniers of Humean Supervenience About Laws of Nature Part II: The Epistemological Argument for Humean Supervenience.John Earman & John T. Roberts - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71 (2):253–286.
    In Part I, we presented and motivated a new formulation of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature (HS). Here in Part II, we present an epistemological argument in defense of HS, thus formulated. Our contention is that one can combine a modest realism about laws of nature with a proper recognition of the importance of empirical testability in the epistemology of science only if one accepts HS.
  36. In Defense of Laws: Reflections on Bas Van Fraassen's Laws and Symmetry.Review author[S.]: John Earman - 1993 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (2):413-419.
  37. 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 (...)
  38. Marc Lange on Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (1):75 – 79.
    For scientific essentialists, the only logical possibilities of existence are the real (or metaphysical) ones, and such possibilities, they say, are relative to worlds. They are not a priori, and they cannot just be invented. Rather, they are discoverable only by the a posteriori methods of science. There are, however, many philosophers who think that real possibilities are knowable a priori, or that they can just be invented. Marc Lange [Lange 2004] thinks that they can be invented, and tries to (...)
  39. Humean Metaphysics Versus a Metaphysics of Powers.Michael Esfeld - 2010 - In Gerhard Ernst & Andreas Hüttemann (eds.), Time, Chance and Reduction: Philosophical Aspects of Statistical Mechanics. Cambridge University Press. pp. 119.
  40. Strawson on Laws and Regularities.Nicholas Everitt - 1991 - Analysis 51 (4):206 - 208.
    In his recent book The Secret Connection (Clarendon 1989), Galen Strawsonadvances what he calls 'a simple and devastating objection' to the regularitytheory of causation. I will argue that his objection, far from beingdevastating, has no force at all; and further, that if it did have force, itwould tell equally against Strawson's own preferred alternative to theregularity theory.
  41. Humean Reductionism About Laws of Nature.Ned Hall - manuscript
  42. Legitimizing Chance: The Best-System Approach to Probabilistic Laws in Physical Theory.John F. Halpin - 1994 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (3):317 – 338.
  43. Humean Dispositionalism.Toby Handfield - 2008 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 86 (1):113-126.
    Humean metaphysics is characterized by a rejection of necessary connections between distinct existences. Dispositionalists claim that there are basic causal powers. The existence of such properties is widely held to be incompatible with the Humean rejection of necessary connections. In this paper I present a novel theory of causal powers that vindicates the dispositionalist claim that causal powers are basic, without embracing brute necessary connections. The key assumptions of the theory are that there are natural types of causal processes, and (...)
  44. Lange on Essentialism, Counterfactuals, and Explanation.Toby Handfield - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (1):81 – 85.
    Marc Lange objects to scientific essentialists that they can give no better account of the counterfactual invariance of laws than Humeans. While conceding this point succeeds ad hominem against some essentialists, I show that it does not undermine essentialism in general. Moreover, Lange's alternative account of the relation between laws and counterfactuals is - with minor modification - compatible with essentialism.
  45. A Revised Regularity View of Scientific Laws.M. Hesse - 1980 - In D. H. Mellor (ed.), Science, Belief and Behaviour. Cambridge University Press.
  46. 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 (Philos Stud 160(1):115–137, 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 (...)
  47. 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 (...)
  48. Tooley's Account of the Necessary Connection Between Law and Regularity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (1):33-43.
    Fred Dretske, Michael Tooley, and David Armstrong accept a theory of governing laws of nature according to which laws are atomic states of affairs that necessitate corresponding natural regularities. Some philosophers object to the Dretske/Tooley/Armstrong theory on the grounds that there is no illuminating account of the necessary connection between governing law and natural regularity. In response, Michael Tooley has provided a reductive account of this necessary connection in his book Causation (1987). In this essay, I discuss an improved version (...)
  49. Natural Necessity and Laws of Nature.Herbert Hochberg - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (3):386-399.
    The paper considers recent proposals by Armstrong, Dretske, and Tooley that revive the view that statements of laws of nature are grounded by the existence of higher order facts relating universals. Several objections to such a view are raised and an alternative analysis, recognizing general facts, is considered. Such an alternative is shown to meet a number of the objections raised against the appeal to higher order facts and it is also related to views of Hume and Wittgenstein. Further objections (...)
  50. On Lewis's Objective Chance: "Humean Supervenience Debugged".Carl Hoefer - 1997 - Mind 106 (422):321-334.
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