Nomological Necessity

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian Boge
About this topic
Summary Some statements are not only true but necessarily true. The fact they state can not possibly be otherwise. Consider the necessary "My sister is a woman" versus the non-necessary (i.e., accidental or contingent) "I have a brother". There are, however, different kinds of necessity: a logical necessity, like "It is raining or it is not raining", has its source in the rules of logic; a conceptual necessity, like "Bachelors are unmarried men", is true in virtue of the meanings of the words of the statement; a metaphysical necessity, like "Water is H2O", is said to be necessarily true because it is the essence of water to be H2O. Nomological necessity, finally, is grounded in or grounds the laws of nature: "Increased heat at constant volume necessitates (or causes) higher pressure".  Some philosophers first give a theory of what laws of nature are and then can say on that basis that events happen with nomological necessity when they happen because of the laws. Other philosophers take nomological necessity to be basic and define law statements in terms of nomologically necessary relations in nature.
Key works The two most famous opposite views are those of Lewis for whom laws come first (Lewis 1973, especially pp. 73 onwards) and Armstrong, Dretske, Tooley, for whom nomological necessity is more basic Armstrong 1983Dretske 1977Tooley 1997.
Introductions Carroll 1994
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  1. The Modal Status of Natural Laws.Erik Andrew Anderson - 1997 - Dissertation, University of Colorado at Boulder
    According to a popular realist conception, the laws of nature not only describe, but indeed govern what happens in the empirical world. Thus, according to this view, laws are "modally stronger" than mere contingent, empirical regularities. At the same time, this conception has it that the laws of nature could have been other than they actually are. Thus, according to this view, laws are "modally weaker" than logical necessities. As such, this view of laws, which I call the Weak Thesis, (...)
  2. 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 (...)
  3. What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 2012 - 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 (...)
  4. Comment on Ellis.D. M. Armstrong - 1999 - In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 35--38.
  5. Comment on Smart.D. M. Armstrong - 1999 - In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 171--172.
  6. Comments on Lierse.D. M. Armstrong - 1996 - In P. Riggs (ed.), Natural Kinds, Laws of Nature and Scientific Methodology. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 227--228.
  7. A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1993 - Philosophical Perspectives 7 (3):429-440.
    In this important study D. M. Armstrong offers a comprehensive system of analytical metaphysics that synthesises but also develops his thinking over the last twenty years. Armstrong's analysis, which acknowledges the 'logical atomism' of Russell and Wittgenstein, makes facts the fundamental constituents of the world, examining properties, relations, numbers, classes, possibility and necessity, dispositions, causes and laws. All these, it is argued, find their place and can be understood inside a scheme of states of affairs. This is a comprehensive and (...)
  8. What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
    This is a study of a crucial and controversial topic in metaphysics and the philosophy of science: the status of the laws of nature. D. M. Armstrong works out clearly and in comprehensive detail a largely original view that laws are relations between properties or universals. The theory is continuous with the views on universals and more generally with the scientific realism that Professor Armstrong has advanced in earlier publications. He begins here by mounting an attack on the orthodox and (...)
  9. Laws of Nature as Relations Between Universals and as Universals.D. M. Armstrong - 1982 - Philosophical Topics 13 (1):7-24.
  10. Naturalism, Materialism and First Philosophy.D. M. Armstrong - 1978 - Philosophia 8 (2-3):261-276.
    First, The doctrine of naturalism, That reality is spatio-Temporal, Is defended. Second, The doctrine of materialism or physicalism, That this spatio-Temporal reality involves nothing but the entities of physics working according to the principles of physics, Is defended. Third, It is argued that these doctrines do not constitute a "first philosophy." a satisfactory first philosophy should recognize universals, In the form of instantiated properties and relations. Laws of nature are constituted by relations between universals. What universals there are, And what (...)
  11. Ontology, Causality, and Mind: Essays in Honor of D.M. Armstrong.D. M. Armstrong, John Bacon, Keith Campbell & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.) - 1993 - Cambridge University Press.
  12. Reply to Ellis.David M. Armstrong - 1999 - In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 43--48.
  13. The Open Door: Counterfactual Versus Singularist Theories of Causation.David M. Armstrong - 1999 - In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 175--185.
  14. The Identification Problem and the Inference Problem.Review author[S.]: D. M. Armstrong - 1993 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 53 (2):421-422.
  15. 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.
  16. Laws of Nature and the Universe: Philosophical Implications of Modern Cosmology.Yuri V. Balashov - 1998 - Dissertation, University of Notre Dame
    Are the laws of nature real? Do they belong to the world or merely reflect the way we speak about it? If they are real, what sort of entity are they? This study contributes to the ongoing discussion of these questions by emphasizing the importance of a cosmological perspective on them. I argue that the evidence coming from modern evolutionary cosmology presents difficulties for certain currently fashionable philosophical accounts of laws, in particular, for the Dretske-Tooley-Armstrong theory. I defend, in light (...)
  17. Mackie, Kripke, and Causal Necessity.Greg Bayer - 1996 - Southwest Philosophy Review 12 (1):237-246.
  18. Lawful Mimickers.Umut Baysan - forthcoming - Analysis:anx086.
    The nomic view of dispositions holds that properties confer dispositions on their bearers with nomological necessity. The argument against nomic dispositions challenges the nomic view: if the nomic view is true, then objects don't have dispositions, but 'mimic' them. This paper presents an explication of disposition conferral which shows that the nomic view is not vulnerable to this objection.
  19. The Two Definitions and the Doctrine of Necessity.Helen Beebee - 2007 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt3):413-431.
  20. Natural and Nomological Necessity.James O. Bennett - 1975 - New Scholasticism 49 (4):393-409.
  21. 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 (...)
  22. The World as One of a Kind: Natural Necessity and Laws of Nature.John Bigelow, Brian Ellis & Caroline Lierse - 1992 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (3):371-388.
  23. The Ultimate Argument Against Armstrong's Contingent Necessitation View of Laws.Alexander Bird - 2005 - Analysis 65 (286):147-55.
    I show that Armstrong’s view of laws as second-order contingent relations of ‘necessitation’ among categorical properties faces a dilemma. The necessitation relation confers a relation of extensional inclusion (‘constant conjunction’) on its relata. It does so either necessarily or contingently. If necessarily, it is not a categorical relation (in the relevant sense). If contingently, then an explanation is required of how it confers extensional inclusion. That explanation will need to appeal to a third-order relation between necessitation and extensional inclusion. The (...)
  24. The Contingency of the Laws of Nature.Emile Boutroux & Fred Rothwell - 1916 - Open Court.
  25. The Contingency of the Laws of Nature, Authorized Tr. By F. Rothwell.Étienne Émile M. Boutroux & Fred Rothwell - 1916
  26. Necessity and Physical Laws in Descartes's Philosophy.Janet Broughton - 1987 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 68 (3/4):205.
    I argue that although in his earlier work descartes thought of the laws of motion as "eternal truths," he later came to think of them as truths whose necessity is of a different type.
  27. Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality, by Barbara Vetter. [REVIEW]James M. Bucknell - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):207-208.
  28. On Walsh's Reading of Whewell's View of Necessity.Robert E. Butts - 1965 - Philosophy of Science 32 (2):175-181.
  29. HARRÉ, R. And MADDEN, E. H. "Causal Powers: A Theory of Natural Necessity". [REVIEW]B. Carr - 1978 - Mind 87:305.
  30. Ontology and the Laws of Nature.John W. Carroll - 1987 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 65 (3):261 – 276.
    An argument for realism (i.E., The ontological thesis that there exist universals) has emerged in the writings of david armstrong, Fred dretske, And michael tooley. These authors have persuasively argued against traditional reductive accounts of laws and nature. The failure of traditional reductive accounts leads all three authors to opt for a non-Traditional reductive account of laws which requires the existence of universals. In other words, These authors have opted for accounts of laws which (together with the fact that there (...)
  31. 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 (...)
  32. Harré and Nonlogical Necessity.Barry Cohen & Edward H. Madden - 1973 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 24 (2):176-182.
  33. Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality, by Barbara Vetter.Gabriele Contessa - 2016 - Mind 125 (500):1236-1244.
    Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality, by VetterBarbara. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2015. Pp. ix + 335.
  34. Positive Law and Natural Law. Views of the Natural Law on Necessity and the Nature of Determination.Sebastian Contreras - 2013 - Kriterion: Revista de Filosofia 54 (127):43-61.
  35. Comments on Lierse.Armstrong David - 1996 - In P. Riggs (ed.), Natural Kinds, Laws of Nature and Scientific Methodology. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 227.
  36. Problems From Armstrong.TIm de Mey & Markku Keinänen (eds.) - 2008 - Acta Philosophica Fennica 84.
    For almost fifty years, David Armstrong has made major contributions in analytic philosophy. The aim of this volume is to collect papers that situate, discuss and critically assess Armstrong’s contributions. The book is organized in three parts. In Section I: Analytical Metaphysics and Its Methodology, certain basic principles of analytic metaphysics advocated by Armstrong (such as truthmaker maximalism and the Doctrine of Ontological Free Lunch) and their consequences are critically examined. The articles of Section II: Laws of Nature, Dispositions, and (...)
  37. Laws of Nature.Fred I. Dretske - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (2):248-268.
    It is a traditional empiricist doctrine that natural laws are universal truths. In order to overcome the obvious difficulties with this equation most empiricists qualify it by proposing to equate laws with universal truths that play a certain role, or have a certain function, within the larger scientific enterprise. This view is examined in detail and rejected; it fails to account for a variety of features that laws are acknowledged to have. An alternative view is advanced in which laws are (...)
  38. Two Kinds of Possibility.Dorothy Edgington - 2004 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 78 (1):1–22.
    I defend a version of Kripke's claim that the metaphysically necessary and the knowable a priori are independent. On my version, there are two independent families of modal notions, metaphysical and epistemic, neither stronger than the other. Metaphysical possibility is constrained by the laws of nature. Logical validity, I suggest, is best understood in terms of epistemic necessity.
  39. Laws, Natures, and Contingent Necessities.Crawford L. Elder - 1994 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 54 (3):649-667.
  40. Response to David Armstrong.Brian Ellis - 1999 - In Howard Sankey (ed.), Causation and Laws of Nature. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 39--43.
  41. HARRE, R. & MADDEN, E. H., "Causal Powers: A Theory of Natural Necessity". [REVIEW]Robert Farrell - 1979 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 57:114.
  42. Are There Necessary Connections in Nature?Milton Fisk - 1970 - Philosophy of Science 37 (3):385-404.
    The following questions are discussed here. Is induction a reasonable procedure in the context of a denial of physically necessary connections? What is physical necessity? If induction does presuppose physical necessity, what amount of it is presupposed? It is argued that with logic as the only restriction on what is to count as a possible world, it is unreasonable to claim that observed connections, whether universal or statistical, will continue to hold. The concept of physical necessity is no more problematic (...)
  43. Human Agency and Natural Necessity.Antony Flew - 1991 - Philosophy Now 1:12-13.
  44. General Facts, Physical Necessity and the Metaphysics of Time.Peter Forrest - 2006 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 2:137-154.
    In this chapter I assume that we accept, perhaps reluctantly, general facts, that is states of affairs corresponding to universal generalizations. I then argue that, without any addition, this ontology provides us with physical necessities, and moreover with various grades of physical necessity, including the strongest grade, which I call absolute physical necessity. In addition there are consequences for our understanding of time. For this account, which I call the Mortmain Theory, provides a defence of No Futurism against an otherwise (...)
  45. Physical Necessity and the Passage of Time.Peter Forrest - 1996 - In P. Riggs (ed.), Natural Kinds, Laws of Nature and Scientific Methodology. Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 49--62.
  46. The Necessity of Nature.Alfred Freddoso - 1986 - Midwest Studies in Philosophy 11 (1):215-242.
    This paper lays out the main contours of an objectivistic account of natural necessity that locates its source within natural substances themselves. The key claims are that what occurs by a necessity of nature constitutes the culmination of deterministic natural tendencies and that these tendencies are themselves rooted in the natures or essences of natural substances. The paper concludes by discussing the notion of a law of nature as it emerges on this account.
  47. Laws and Counterfactuals in Nagel: A Reply to Krimerman.George Goe - 1967 - Philosophical Studies 18 (1-2):24 - 27.
  48. What is a Law of Nature? (D. M. Armstrong). [REVIEW]Steven Louis Goldman - 1987 - History of European Ideas 8 (1):97-97.
  49. Necessity and Scientific Laws.Chhanda Gupta - 1981 - In Krishna Roy (ed.), Mind, Language, and Necessity. Macmillan India.
  50. Nomic Necessity and Empiricism.John F. Halpin - 1999 - Noûs 33 (4):630-643.
    character. So, we have learned from early on that laws are meant to portray a sort of necessity in nature. The comings and goings described by law are not merely contingently related. Rather, it is part of the concept of law that these events are connected in some significant way: "nomically" connected. One important desideratum for an account of law, then, is that it respect and perhaps explain this modal character.
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