Laws as Relations between Universals

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian J. Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
About this topic
Summary The idea that laws of nature do not connect just any kind of properties -- for example the property of being an object that the pope possesses or the property of looking red to a bull -- is old. Laws of nature, so the intuition, say something about the regular co-occurrence of real properties and not just any made up classes of things. One way to put this is to say that laws hold between universals, another to say that they hold between perfectly natural properties.
Key works David Armstrong has written key works on both universals and laws of nature and also their relation: Armstrong 1982Armstrong 1978Armstrong 1983.
Introductions M. Armstrong 2010
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105 found
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  1. added 2020-04-20
    Ontology, Causality, and Mind: Essays on the Philosophy of D. M. Armstrong.Keith Cambell, John Bacon & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.) - 1993 - Cambridge University Press.
    D. M. Armstrong is an eminent Australian philosopher whose work over many years has dealt with such subjects as: the nature of possibility, concepts of the particular and the general, causes and laws of nature, and the nature of human consciousness. This collection of essays explores the many facets of Armstrong's work, concentrating on his more recent interests. There are four sections to the book: possibility and identity, universals, laws and causality, and philosophy of mind. The contributors comprise an international (...)
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  2. added 2020-04-20
    Tooley's Theory of Laws of Nature.Stephen C. Hetherington - 1983 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 13 (1):101 - 106.
    This paper contains a discussion of a theory of laws of nature formulated recently by Michael Tooley. He sees the truth-makers for laws of nature as consisting of particular sorts of contingent relations between universals. He is not alone in this idea; it has also been advanced by Fred Dretske and D.M. Armstrong. However, its most thorough and detailed presentation is by Tooley. Being a challenging and stimulating idea, it merits investigation.
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  3. added 2020-02-08
    Ontology, Causality and Mind.David Brooks - 1996 - Philosophical Quarterly 46 (185):518-522.
    D. M. Armstrong is an eminent Australian philosopher whose work over many years has dealt with such subjects as: the nature of possibility, concepts of the particular and the general, causes and laws of nature, and the nature of human consciousness. This collection of essays explores the many facets of Armstrong's work, concentrating on his more recent interests. There are four sections to the book: possibility and identity, universals, laws and causality, and philosophy of mind. The contributors comprise an international (...)
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  4. added 2020-01-09
    No God, No Powers.James Orr - 2019 - International Philosophical Quarterly 59 (4):411-426.
    One common feature of debates about the best metaphysical analysis of putatively lawful phenomena is the suspicion that nomic realists who locate the modal force of such phenomena in quasi-causal necessitation relations between universals are working with a model of law that cannot convincingly erase its theological pedigree. Nancy Cartwright distills this criticism into slogan form: no God, no laws. Some have argued that a more plausible alternative for nomic realists who reject theism is to ground laws of nature in (...)
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  5. added 2019-12-30
    The laws of nature and Tooley's cases / As leis da natureza e os casos de Tooley.Rodrigo Cid - 2013 - Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 36:67-101.
    The purposes of this paper are: (1) to present four theories of the nature of natural laws, (2) to show that only one of them is capable of adequately answering to Tooley’s Cases, and (3) indicate why these cases are relevant for our ontology. These purposes are important since the concept of “natural law” is used in many (if not all) realms of natural science and in many branches of philosophy; if Tooley’s cases are possible, they represent situations that must (...)
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  6. added 2019-10-29
    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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  7. added 2019-07-22
    Dretsky and Armstrong on Regularity Analyses and Explanation.Barry Ward - 2004 - Southwest Philosophy Review 20 (1):193-200.
  8. added 2019-07-18
    Ideal Laws, Counterfactual Preservation, and the Analyses of Lawhood.Peter Tan - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-16.
    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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  9. added 2019-06-05
    A Combinatorial Theory of Possibility. D. M. Armstrong.Tim Maudlin - 1992 - Philosophy of Science 59 (4):716-718.
  10. added 2019-03-27
    Are Dispositions Ultimate? Reply to Franklin.D. M. Armstrong - 1988 - Philosophical Quarterly 38 (150):84-86.
    It is argued that it is possible that all properties are categorical, contrary to the arguments of Franklin that there must be dispositionality "all the way down". The tasks for which dispositionality is alleged to be needed can be fulfilled by laws of nature, which are categorical relations between universals.
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  11. added 2019-01-15
    The One and the Many.Curtis L. Hancock - 2015 - Review of Metaphysics 69 (2):233-259.
    If contemporary philosophers of science could transcend the skepticism that seems to have become obligatory in modern epistemologies, they could restore a comprehensive vision of science that would be a boon to science and scientific education. Science is not mere knowledge. Science is knowledge of something that is necessary and universal because its causes are understood. This was Aristotle’s conception of science, a conception which includes knowledge of substances and the first ontological principles of things. St. Thomas Aquinas refined this (...)
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  12. added 2018-08-06
    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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  13. added 2018-05-29
    Teoria praw przyrody Armstronga wobec problemów identyfikacji i inferencji.Joanna Luc - 2018 - Diametros 55:132-157.
    One of the modern approaches to the laws of nature regards them as relations between universals. The most advanced version of such an approach has been presented by D. M. Armstrong. The aim of this paper is to reconstruct and interpret Armstrong’s conception but also to evaluate his theory and to point out what expectations from it are inadequate. My point of reference are two objections to Armstrong’s ideas, namely the problems of identification and inference. I claim that Armstrong’s theory (...)
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  14. added 2018-05-29
    Book Review:What Is a Law of Nature? D. M. Armstrong.Peter Vallentyne - 1986 - Philosophy of Science 53 (1):154-156.
  15. added 2018-05-29
    Book Review:What Is a Law of Nature? D. M. Armstrong.James Woodward - 1985 - Ethics 95 (4):949-951.
  16. added 2018-03-17
    Causation and Universals.Evan Fales - 1990 - Routledge.
    The world contains objective causal relations and universals, both of which are intimately connected. If these claims are true, they must have far-reaching consequences, breathing new life into the theory of empirical knowledge and reinforcing epistemological realism. Without causes and universals, Professor Fales argues, realism is defeated, and idealism or scepticism wins. Fales begins with a detailed analysis of David Hume's argument that we have no direct experience of necessary connections between events, concluding that Hume was mistaken on this fundamental (...)
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  17. added 2018-01-16
    Report: David Malet Armstrong’s Neo‐Aristotelianism.Annabella D'Atri - unknown
    The aim of this paper is to establish criteria for designating the Systematic Metaphysics of Australian philosopher David Malet Armstrong as neo‐ Aristotelian and to distinguish this form of weak neo‐ Aristotelianism from other forms, specifically from John Lowe’s strong neo‐Aristotelianism. In order to compare the two forms, I will focus on the Aristotelian category of substance, and on the dissimilar attitudes of Armstrong and Lowe with regard to this category. Finally, I will test the impact of the two different (...)
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  18. added 2017-10-16
    What Is a Law of Nature?Long Kenneth - unknown
    A discussion of various philosophical approaches to the concept of a law of nature, including the naive regularity approach, the sophisyicated regularity approach, the epistemic mark approach, the web-of-laws approach, and the anti-realist approach.
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  19. added 2017-10-16
    What is a Law of Nature? The Broken-Symmetry Story.Yuri Balashov - 2002 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (4):459-473.
    I argue that the contemporary interplay of cosmology and particle physics in their joint effort to understand the processes at work during the first moments of the big bang has important implications for understanding the nature of lawhood. I focus on the phenomenon of spontaneous symmetry breaking responsible for generating the masses of certain particles. This phenomenon presents problems for the currently fashionable Dretske-Tooley-Armstrong theory and strongly favors a rival nomic ontology of causal powers.
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  20. added 2017-10-16
    What is a Law of Nature?Mark Wilson - 1987 - Philosophical Review 96 (3):435-441.
  21. added 2017-10-16
    What Is a Law of Nature?[author unknown] - 1986 - Critica 18 (52):129-131.
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  22. added 2017-10-16
    What Is a Law of Nature?James Woodward - 1985 - Ethics 95 (4):949-951.
  23. added 2017-10-16
    What Is a Law of Nature?[author unknown] - 1985 - Philosophy 60 (234):557-558.
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  24. added 2017-10-16
    What Is a Law of Nature?[author unknown] - 1985 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 36 (1):79-81.
  25. added 2017-10-16
    Tooley's Theory of Laws of Nature.Stephen C. Hetherington - 1983 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 13 (1):101-114.
    This paper contains a discussion of a theory of laws of nature formulated recently by Michael Tooley. He sees the truth-makers for laws of nature as consisting of particular sorts of contingent relations between universals. He is not alone in this idea; it has also been advanced by Fred Dretske and D.M. Armstrong. However, its most thorough and detailed presentation is by Tooley. Being a challenging and stimulating idea, it merits investigation.
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  26. added 2017-10-16
    Universals and Laws of Nature.Martin Tweedale - 1982 - Philosophical Topics 13 (1):25-44.
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  27. added 2017-08-30
    Universals, Laws, and Governance.Matthew Tugby - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (5):1147-1163.
    Proponents of the dispositional theory of properties typically claim that their view is not one that offers a realist, governing conception of laws. My first aim is to show that, contrary to this claim, if one commits to dispositionalism then one does not automatically give up on a robust, realist theory of laws. This is because dispositionalism can readily be developed within a Platonic framework of universals. Second, I argue that there are good reasons for realist dispositionalists to favour a (...)
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  28. added 2017-08-30
    What is a Law of Nature? (D. M. Armstrong). [REVIEW]Steven Louis Goldman - 1987 - History of European Ideas 8 (1):97-97.
  29. added 2017-05-26
    Regularity Theory and Inductive Scepticism: The Fight Against Armstrong.Benjamin Smart - 2009 - Lyceum 11 (1).
  30. added 2017-03-29
    Must the Fundamental Laws of Physics Be Complete?Marc Lange - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (2):312-345.
    The beauty of electricity, or of any other force, is not that the power is mysterious and unexpected, touching every sense at unawares in turn, but that it is under law... Michael Faraday, Wheatstone's Electric Telegraph's Relation to Science (being an argument in favour of the full recognition of Science as a branch of Education), 1854.
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  31. added 2017-03-29
    Armstrong and Dretske on the Explanatory Power of Regularities.Marc Lange - 1992 - Analysis 52 (3):154 - 159.
  32. added 2017-02-24
    Armstrong on Probabilistic Laws of Nature.Jonathan D. Jacobs & Robert J. Hartman - 2017 - Philosophical Papers 46 (3):373-387.
    D. M. Armstrong famously claims that deterministic laws of nature are contingent relations between universals and that his account can also be straightforwardly extended to irreducibly probabilistic laws of nature. For the most part, philosophers have neglected to scrutinize Armstrong’s account of probabilistic laws. This is surprising precisely because his own claims about probabilistic laws make it unclear just what he takes them to be. We offer three interpretations of what Armstrong-style probabilistic laws are, and argue that all three interpretations (...)
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  33. added 2017-02-12
    Natural Laws, Modality and Universals.José Tomás Alvarado Marambio - 2010 - Epistemologia 33:207-234.
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  34. added 2017-01-26
    Necessities and Universals in Natural Laws.David H. Mellor - 1980 - In D. H. Mellor (ed.), Science, Belief and Behaviour. Cambridge University Press. pp. 105--25.
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  35. added 2017-01-22
    Review: Armstrong's Theory of Universals. [REVIEW]David H. Sanford - 1980 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 31 (1):69 - 79.
  36. added 2017-01-21
    The Dretske–Tooley–Armstrong Theory of Natural Laws and the Inference Problem.Joan Page`S. - 2002 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 16 (3):227-243.
    In this article I intend to show that the inference problem, one of the main objections raised against the anti-Humean theory of natural laws defended by Dretske, Tooley and Armstrong (?DTA theory? for short), can be successfully answered. First, I argue that a proper solution should meet two essential requirements that the proposals made by the DTA theorists do not satisfy. Then I state a solution to the inference problem that assumes a local immanentistic view of universals, a partial definition (...)
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  37. added 2017-01-19
    EI Realismo Nómico de Universales: Algunos Problemas (Nomical Universal Realism: Some Problems).Joan Pagès - 2001 - Theoria 16 (3):559-582.
    EI desarrollo de su teoría de las leyes como relaciones entre universales condujo a Armstrong a establecer un marco metafísico general mas complejo que el que sus anteriores trabajos presentaban. En este artículo se exponen los aspectos principales de la metafísica de particulares y universales exigida por la identificación original de Armstrong de las leyes con estados de cosas universales. Además, se presentan diversas dificultades que pueden hallarse en su propuesta, y algunas soluciones para las mismas. Los temas principales que (...)
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  38. added 2017-01-19
    Armstrong on the Role of Laws in Counterfactual Supporting.Joan Pages - 1997 - Theoria 12 (2):337-342.
    Armstrong (1983) poses two requirements that law-statements must satisfy in order to support the corresponding counterfactuals. He also argues that law-statements can not satisfy one of these requirements if they merely express regularities, although both requirements are satisfied if law-statements are interpreted as expressing relations between universals. I try to show that Armstrong’s argument can be raised against Armstrong’s own solution by adding three premisses to it: the inference thesis, the contingency thesis and a principle whose rationality I also argue (...)
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  39. added 2017-01-17
    Armstrong on the Role of Laws in Counterfactual Supporting.Joan Pages - 1997 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 12 (2):337-342.
    Armstrong poses two requirements that law-statements must satisfy in order to support the corresponding counterfactuals. He also argues that law-statements can not satisfy one of these requirements if they merely express regularities, although both requirements are satisfied if law-statements are interpreted as expressing relations between universals. I try to show that Armstrong’s argument can be raised against Armstrong’s own solution by adding three premisses to it: the inference thesis, the contingency thesis and a principle whose rationality I also argue for. (...)
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  40. added 2017-01-15
    The Ultimate Argument Against Armstrong's Contingent Necessitation View of Laws.A. Bird - 2005 - Analysis 65 (2):147-155.
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  41. added 2016-12-29
    Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics.D. M. Armstrong - 2010 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press UK.
    In his last book, David Armstrong sets out his metaphysical system in a set of concise and lively chapters each dealing with one aspect of the world. He begins with the assumption that all that exists is the physical world of space-time. On this foundation he constructs a coherent metaphysical scheme that gives plausible answers to many of the great problems of metaphysics. He gives accounts of properties, relations, and particulars; laws of nature; modality; abstract objects such as numbers; and (...)
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  42. added 2016-10-21
    Natural Properties, Necessary Connections, and the Problem of Induction.Tyler Hildebrand - 2016 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research:668-689.
    The necessitarian solution to the problem of induction involves two claims: first, that necessary connections are justified by an inference to the best explanation; second, that the best theory of necessary connections entails the timeless uniformity of nature. In this paper, I defend the second claim. My arguments are based on considerations from the metaphysics of laws, properties, and fundamentality.
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  43. added 2016-06-24
    What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1985 - Cambridge University Press.
    First published in 1985, D. M. Armstrong's original work on what laws of nature are has continued to be influential in the areas of metaphysics and philosophy of science. Presenting a definitive attack on the sceptical Humean view, that laws are no more than a regularity of coincidence between stances of properties, Armstrong establishes his own theory and defends it concisely and systematically against objections. Presented in a fresh twenty-first-century series livery, and including a specially commissioned preface written by Marc (...)
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  44. added 2016-03-30
    Is the Humean Defeated by Induction? A Reply to Smart.Eduardo Castro - 2016 - Philosophia 44 (2):435-446.
    This paper is a reply to Benjamin Smart’s : 319–332, 2013) recent objections to David Armstrong’s solution to the problem of induction : 503–511, 1991). To solve the problem of induction, Armstrong contends that laws of nature are the best explanation of our observed regularities, where laws of nature are dyadic relations of necessitation holding between first-order universals. Smart raises three objections against Armstrong’s pattern of inference. First, regularities can explain our observed regularities; that is, universally quantified conditionals are required (...)
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  45. added 2015-11-14
    As leis da natureza e os casos de Tooley.Rodrigo Cid - 2013 - Manuscrito 36 (1):67-101.
    The purposes of this paper are: (1) to present four theories of the nature of natural laws, (2) to show that only one of them is capable of adequately answering to Tooley's Cases, and (3) indicate why these cases are relevant for our ontology. These purposes are important since the concept of "natural law" is used in many (if not all) realms of natural science and in many branches of philosophy; if Tooley's cases are possible, they represent situations that must (...)
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  46. added 2015-09-11
    Natural Laws, Universals, and the Induction Problem.Edward Slowik - 2005 - Philosophia 32 (1-4):241-251.
    This paper contends that some of the recent critical appraisals of universals theories of natural laws, namely, van Fraassen's analysis of Armstrong's probabilistic laws, are largely ineffective since they fail to disclose the incompatibility of universals and any realistic natural law setting. Rather, a more profitable line of criticism is developed that contests the universalists' claim to have resolved the induction problem (i.e., the separation of natural laws from mere accidental regularities), and thereby reveals the universals' philosophically inadequate concept of (...)
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  47. added 2015-08-10
    Ontology, Causality and Mind: Essays in Honour of D M Armstrong.John Bacon, Keith Campbell & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.) - 1993 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
    D. M. Armstrong is an eminent Australian philosopher whose work over many years has dealt with such subjects as: the nature of possibility, concepts of the particular and the general, causes and laws of nature, and the nature of human consciousness. This collection of essays explores the many facets of Armstrong's work, concentrating on his more recent interests. There are four sections to the book: possibility and identity, universals, laws and causality, and philosophy of mind. The contributors comprise an international (...)
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  48. added 2015-07-31
    The Necessitarian Perspective: Laws as Natural Entailments.Martin Leckey - 1995 - In F. Weinert (ed.), Laws of Nature. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 92-119.
    We maintain that there is something called natural necessity that is involved in the laws of nature -laws are concerned with what must happen, and what could not possibly happen. rather than merely what does and does not happen. Some recent believers in natural necessity, such as Dretske [1977], Tooley [1977,1987] and Armstrong [1978, 1983], have argued that this natural necessity arises from certain relations among the properties of things in our world - they argue that there are relations of (...)
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  49. added 2015-06-09
    Going Through the Open Door Again: Counterfactual Versus Singularist Theories of Causation.D. M. Armstrong - 2001 - In Gerhard Preyer (ed.), Reality and Humean Supervenience: Essays on the Philosophy of David Lewis. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 163--176.
  50. added 2015-06-09
    Armstrong on Laws and Probabilities.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1987 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 65 (3):243 – 260.
    The question of David Armstrong's recent book, What Is a Law of Nature? would seem to have little point unless there really are laws of nature. However that may be, so much philosoFhical thinking has utilized this concept, that an inquiry of this sort was needed whether there are or not. The book begins with a devastating attack on so-called Regularity views of law, and then proceeds with an exposition of Armstrong's own answer to the question. I wish to raise (...)
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