Law Statements

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian J. Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Aachen University of Technology)
About this topic
Summary Next to the ontological status of laws of nature, their linguistic representation can be of interest. Questions regarding law statements include which logical features are characteristic of law statements (universal quantification, conditional statements, material vs. counterfactual conditionals, modal operators… etc.), whether there even is such a thing as a general common form of such statements, whether there is always or even essentially a mathematic form, differential equations for example, what distinguishes statements of laws from accidental generalizations, and so forth.

These questions relate, in particular, to the “lawlikeness”-debate that dates back to logical empiricism, whose proponents focused on language analysis as the central method to solve philosophical problems. The guiding idea to define what a law of nature is was, for example, to split the problem into two parts: first, say what necessary and sufficient features statements, i.e., linguistic entities, must have in order to be counted as expressions of laws. Call those statements that fulfill the criteria -- like universality, containing only natural predicates, having conditional form, etc. -- "lawlike". Then, second, say that a law of nature (the ultimate target of the enquiry) is a true lawlike statement. Thus, overall, there are two separate tasks to tackle: find criteria for lawlikeness, then find out whether the respective statements are true (the latter task leads straight into conformation theory and its problems; see philpapers for confirmation). It should be said that no necessary or sufficient set of pure syntactic nor semantic criteria could ever be given.

Key works The seminal papers are Goodman 1954 and Hempel & Oppenheim 1948, see also the last chapter of Reichenbach 1947.
Introductions Psillos 2002
Related categories

61 found
1 — 50 / 61
  1. added 2019-02-06
    Necessary Laws and Chemical Kinds.Nora Berenstain - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4):631-647.
    Contingentism, generally contrasted with law necessitarianism, is the view that the laws of nature are contingent. It is often coupled with the claim that their contingency is knowable a priori. This paper considers Bird's (2001, 2002, 2005, 2007) arguments for the thesis that, necessarily, salt dissolves in water; and it defends his view against Beebee's (2001) and Psillos's (2002) contingentist objections. A new contingentist objection is offered and several reasons for scepticism about its success are raised. It is concluded that (...)
  2. added 2019-01-15
    Laws: An Invariance- Based Account.James Woodward - 2018 - In Ott & Patton (eds.), Laws of Nature. Oxford University Press.
    This paper defends an invariance-based account of laws of nature: Laws are generalizations that remain invariant under various sorts of changes. Alternatively, laws are generalizations that exhibit a certain kind of independence from background conditions.
  3. added 2019-01-15
    "Nomological Statements and Admissible Operations." By Hans Reichenbach. [REVIEW]C. Lejewski - 1955 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 5 (20):343.
  4. added 2018-12-03
    Do Scientific Laws Give a True Image of Reality?Jerzy A. Wojciechowski - 1963 - Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 37:206-211.
  5. added 2017-05-26
    Generality and Nomological Form.Mark Wilson - 1979 - Philosophy of Science 46 (1):161-164.
  6. added 2017-04-28
    Scientific Method: An Inquiry Into the Character and Validity of Natural Laws.A. D. Ritchie - 2001 - Routledge.
    First published in 2000. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
  7. added 2017-02-28
    Obtaining Laws Through Quantifying Experiments: Justifications of Pre-Service Physics Teachers in the Case of Electric Current, Voltage and Resistance.Ricardo Karam - 2015 - Science & Education 24 (5-6):699-723.
    The language of physics is mathematics, and physics ideas, laws and models describing phenomena are usually represented in mathematical form. Therefore, an understanding of how to navigate between phenomena and the models representing them in mathematical form is important for a physics teacher so that the teacher can make physics understandable to students. Here, the focus is on the “experimental mathematization,” how laws are established through quantifying experiments. A sequence from qualitative experiments to mathematical formulations through quantifying experiments on electric (...)
  8. added 2017-02-28
    Is There an Intrinsic Criterion for Causal Lawlike Statements?Julien Blondeau & Michel Ghins - 2012 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 26 (4):381-401.
    A scientific mathematical law is causal if and only if it is a process law that contains a time derivative. This is the intrinsic criterion for causal laws we propose. A process is a space-time line along which some properties are conserved or vary. A process law contains a time variable, but only process laws that contain a time derivative are causal laws. An effect is identified with what corresponds to a time derivative of some property or magnitude in a (...)
  9. added 2017-02-28
    Reichenbach's Theory of Nomological Statements.Evan K. Jobe - 1977 - Synthese 35 (2):231 - 254.
  10. added 2016-12-29
    Professor Nagel on Abstractive Theories and Experimental Laws.Leo Simons - 1964 - Philosophy of Science 31 (2):163-167.
  11. added 2016-12-29
    Problem : Do Scientific Laws Give a True Image of Reality?Jerzy A. Wojciechowski - 1963 - Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 37:206.
  12. added 2016-12-08
    Laws and Counterfactuals.Peter van Inwagen - 1979 - Noûs 13 (4):439-453.
  13. added 2016-11-29
    Dimensions of Scientific Law.Sandra D. Mitchell - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (2):242-265.
    Biological knowledge does not fit the image of science that philosophers have developed. Many argue that biology has no laws. Here I criticize standard normative accounts of law and defend an alternative, pragmatic approach. I argue that a multidimensional conceptual framework should replace the standard dichotomous law/ accident distinction in order to display important differences in the kinds of causal structure found in nature and the corresponding scientific representations of those structures. To this end I explore the dimensions of stability, (...)
  14. added 2016-11-29
    The Regularity Theory.Bernard Berofsky - 1968 - Noûs 2 (4):315-340.
  15. added 2016-11-29
    The Structure of Physical Laws.Ludvig Lövestad - 1945 - Theoria 11 (1):40-70.
  16. added 2016-10-21
    Scientific Knowledge. [REVIEW]Wayne A. Davis - 1987 - Review of Metaphysics 41 (1):136-137.
  17. added 2016-03-03
    Laws, Counterfactuals, Stability, and Degrees of Lawhood.Marc Lange - 1999 - Philosophy of Science 66 (2):243-267.
    I identify the special sort of stability (invariance, resilience, etc.) that distinguishes laws from accidental truths. Although an accident can have a certain invariance under counterfactual suppositions, there is no continuum between laws and accidents here; a law's invariance is different in kind, not in degree, from an accident's. (In particular, a law's range of invariance is not "broader"--at least in the most straightforward sense.) The stability distinctive of the laws is used to explicate what it would mean for there (...)
  18. added 2016-01-18
    Laws Are Conditionals.Toby Friend - 2016 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 6 (1):123-144.
    The ubiquitous schema ‘All Fs are Gs’ dominates much philosophical discussion on laws but rarely is it shown how actual laws mentioned and used in science are supposed to fit it. After consideration of a variety of laws, including those obviously conditional and those superficially not conditional, I argue that we have good reason to support the traditional interpretation of laws as conditionals of some quantified form with a single object variable. I show how this conclusion impacts on the status (...)
  19. added 2015-06-09
    Laws, Coincidences, Counterfactuals and Counter-Identicals.R. A. Sharpe - 1971 - Mind 80 (320):572-582.
  20. added 2015-05-31
    Causes, Laws, and Law Statements.Donald Nute - 1981 - Synthese 48 (3):347 - 369.
  21. added 2015-05-31
    Scientific Laws and Scientific Objects in the Tractatus.George L. Proctor - 1959 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 10 (39):177-193.
  22. added 2015-05-31
    Laws and Theories in the Physical Sciences.C. F. Presley - 1954 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):79 – 103.
  23. added 2015-05-18
    Sortal Terms and Natural Laws.E. J. Lowe - 1978 - American Philosophical Quarterly 15 (3):253-60.
  24. added 2015-05-18
    Criteria of Acceptation the General Statements as Natural Laws.Stanislaw Mazierski - 1973 - Roczniki Filozoficzne 21 (3):42.
  25. added 2015-05-18
    Natural Laws and So-Called Accidental General Statements.Peter Long - 1952 - Analysis 13 (1):18 - 23.
  26. added 2015-05-05
    Laws and Counterfactuals.Leonard I. Krimerman - 1965 - Philosophical Studies 16 (3):40 - 44.
  27. added 2015-04-26
    HARRE, R. & MADDEN, E. H., "Causal Powers: A Theory of Natural Necessity". [REVIEW]Robert Farrell - 1979 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 57:114.
  28. added 2015-04-13
    HARRÉ, R. And MADDEN, E. H. "Causal Powers: A Theory of Natural Necessity". [REVIEW]B. Carr - 1978 - Mind 87:305.
  29. added 2014-04-02
    An Epistemic Solution to Goodman's New Riddle of Induction.Rosemarie Rheinwald - 1993 - Synthese 95 (1):55 - 76.
    Goodman'snew riddle of induction can be characterized by the following questions: What is the difference between grue and green?; Why is the hypothesis that all emeralds are grue not lawlike?; Why is this hypothesis not confirmed by its positive instances?; and, Why is the predicate grue not projectible? I argue in favor of epistemological answers to Goodman's questions. The notions of lawlikeness, confirmation, and projectibility have to be relativized to (actual and counterfactual) epistemic situations that are determined by the available (...)
  30. added 2014-03-30
    Laws and Lawmakers Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature.Marc Lange - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
    Laws form counterfactually stable sets -- Natural necessity -- Three payoffs of my account -- A world of subjunctives.
  31. added 2014-03-25
    Approximation, Idealization, and Laws of Nature.Chang Liu - 1999 - Synthese 118 (2):229-256.
    Traditional theories construe approximate truth or truthlikeness as a measure of closeness to facts, singular facts, and idealization as an act of either assuming zero of otherwise very small differences from facts or imagining ideal conditions under which scientific laws are either approximately true or will be so when the conditions are relaxed. I first explain the serious but not insurmountable difficulties for the theories of approximation, and then argue that more serious and perhaps insurmountable difficulties for the theory of (...)
  32. added 2014-03-09
    Hempel's Paradox, Law-Likeness and Causal Relations.Severin Schroeder - 2009 - Philosophical Investigations 32 (3):244-263.
    It is widely thought that Bayesian confirmation theory has provided a solution to Hempel's Paradox (the Ravens Paradox). I discuss one well-known example of this approach, by John Mackie, and argue that it is unconvincing. I then suggest an alternative solution, which shows that the Bayesian approach is altogether mistaken. Nicod's Condition should be rejected because a generalisation is not confirmed by any of its instances if it is not law-like. And even law-like non-basic empirical generalisations, which are expressions of (...)
  33. added 2014-03-09
    Enumerative Induction and Lawlikeness.Wolfgang Spohn - 2005 - Philosophy of Science 72 (1):164-187.
    The paper is based on ranking theory, a theory of degrees of disbelief (and hence belief). On this basis, it explains enumerative induction, the confirmation of a law by its positive instances, which may indeed take various schemes. It gives a ranking theoretic explication of a possible law or a nomological hypothesis. It proves, then, that such schemes of enumerative induction uniquely correspond to mixtures of such nomological hypotheses. Thus, it shows that de Finetti's probabilistic representation theorems may be transformed (...)
  34. added 2014-03-07
    Marc Lange. Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature.Christopher Belanger - 2010 - Spontaneous Generations 4 (1):266-269.
    In Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature, Marc Lange has presented an engagingly written, tightly argued, and novel philosophical account of the laws of nature. One of the intuitions behind the notion of a law of nature is, roughly, that of the many regularities we observe in the world there are some which appear to be due to mere happen-stance (“accidental” regularities, in the philosopher’s jargon), while others, which we call “laws,” seem to be possessed of (...)
  35. added 2014-03-07
    Lange, Marc . Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature . Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009 . Pp. 280. $99.00 (Cloth); $24.95 (Paper). [REVIEW]Mark Lance & Maggie Little - 2010 - Ethics 120 (2):431-437.
  36. added 2014-03-06
    The Logical Form of Universal Generalizations.Alice Drewery - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (3):373 – 393.
    First order logic does not distinguish between different forms of universal generalization; in this paper I argue that lawlike and accidental generalizations (broadly construed) have a different logical form, and that this distinction is syntactically marked in English. I then consider the relevance of this broader conception of lawlikeness to the philosophy of science.
  37. added 2014-02-17
    Laws of Nature Versus System Laws.Gerhard Schurz - 2005 - In Jan Faye, Paul Needham, Uwe Scheffler & Max Urchs (eds.), Nature's Principles. Springer. pp. 255--268.
  38. added 2013-04-02
    O problemach w definiowaniu pojęcia prawa przyrody.Adrian A. Ziółkowski - 2012 - Filozofia Nauki 20 (2).
    The article is a critical commentary on explication of the notion of law of nature based on the concept of counterfactual proposition. The view in question was originally proposed in the 40’s of past century by Roderick M. Chisholm and Nelson Goodman (further referred to as ‘CG criterion’) and has been popular among philosophers ever since.
  39. added 2013-02-20
    Die Inkonsistenz Empiristischer Argumentation Im Zusammenhang MIT Dem Problem der Naturgesetzlichkeit.Dieter Wandschneider - 1986 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 17 (1):131-142.
    Summary The well-knownempiristical apories of the law of nature prevent until this day an adequate philosophical interpretation ofempirical science. Clarification can only be expected through animmanent refutation of the empiristical point of view. In this sense it is proved in this paper thatHume's argumentation, paradigmatic for modern empirism, is not just one-sided, but simplyinconsistent: Anyone who claimes experience to be the basis of all knowledge (as the empirist does), and, due to this, denies that the lawlike character of nature can (...)
  40. added 2013-02-20
    The Logical Status of Natural Laws.R. A. Sharpe - 1964 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 7 (1-4):414-416.
    In this note I have presented the essentials of a view of how laws are falsified, a view which has been held by some notable philosophers but which is radically opposed to that of Professor Popper. I have not scrupled to ?improve? upon it, so the view of no one philosopher is presented. I try to show that an interesting and convincing account of scientific simplicity is implicit in the theory and I conclude by suggesting how we can bring the (...)
  41. added 2011-08-12
    Reply to Israel on the New Riddle of Induction.Robert Kowalenko - 2012 - Philosophia 40 (3):549-552.
    Israel 2004 claims that numerous philosophers have misinterpreted Goodman’s original ‘New Riddle of Induction’, and weakened it in the process, because they do not define ‘grue’ as referring to past observations. Both claims are false: Goodman clearly took the riddle to concern the maximally general problem of “projecting” any type of characteristic from a given realm of objects into another, and since this problem subsumes Israel’s, Goodman formulated a stronger philosophical challenge than the latter surmises.
  42. added 2011-07-06
    Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics and the Laws of Nature * by Marc Lange.A. Drewery - 2011 - Analysis 71 (3):599-601.
    Marc Lange’s new book on laws offers a restatement and development of the account he proposed in Natural Laws and Scientific Practice (Oxford University Press, 2000), henceforth NLSP, and the new material is helpfully summarized in the preface. Laws and Lawmakers presents the key idea from NLSP in a rather more reader-friendly manner – this idea being roughly that the difference between laws and accidents is that laws, unlike accidents, form a ‘stable’ set, i.e. a logically closed set of truths (...)
  43. added 2011-07-06
    The Likeness of Lawlikeness.James H. Fetzer - 1974 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1974:377 - 391.
    The thesis of this paper is that extensional language alone provides an essentially inadequate foundation for the logical formalization of any lawlike statement. The arguments presented are intended to demonstrate that lawlike sentences are logically general dispositional statements requiring an essentially intensional reduction sentence formulation. By introducing a non-extensional logical operator, the 'fork', the difference between universal and statistical laws emerges in a distinction between dispositional predicates of universal strength as opposed to those of merely statistical strength. While the logical (...)
  44. added 2010-09-27
    Evolutionary Change and Lawlikeness : Beatty on Biological Generalizations.Martin Carrier - unknown
  45. added 2009-12-11
    Laws Are Persistent Inductives Schemes.Wolfgang Spohn - 2004 - In F. Stadler (ed.), Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 11--135.
    The characteristic difference between laws and accidental generalizations lies in our epistemic or inductive attitude towards them. This idea has taken various forms and dominated the discussion about lawlikeness in the last decades. Hence, ranking theory with its resources of formalizing defeasible reasoning or inductive schemes seems ideally suited to explicate the idea in a formal way. This is what the paper attempts to do. Thus it will turn out that a law is simply the deterministic analogue of a sequence (...)
  46. added 2009-06-24
    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.
  47. added 2009-06-24
    Confirmation and Law-Likeness.Elliott Sober - 1988 - Philosophical Review 97 (1):93-98.
  48. added 2009-06-24
    Some Recent Work on the Problem of Law.Evan K. Jobe - 1967 - Philosophy of Science 34 (4):363-381.
  49. added 2009-06-24
    Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Harvard University Press.
    In his new foreword to this edition, Hilary Putnam forcefully rejects these nativist claims.
  50. added 2008-12-31
    Lawlikeness.Marc Lange - 1993 - Noûs 27 (1):1-21.
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