Special Science Laws

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Daian Bica (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
About this topic
Summary Early accounts of what a law of nature is were somewhat guided by a reductionist credo: say what it is to be a fundamental law of nature (as in fundamental physics); all the other laws (and scientific theories) follow from these basic laws anyway so that no special theory for what it is to be a law of chemistry or biology or... has to be given. In recent decades this attitude has changed and accounts of laws in the special sciences (and whether there are such) come into focus which are downright independent of reductionist attitudes. These laws have their own features and, thus, face their very own challenges: for example, they might be about entities that have a very limited space-time habitat (think of biology). Also, many special sciences regularities face exceptions: ravens are black, except for albino ravens. Thus, the topic of special science laws and the topic of ceteris paribus laws are closely related: see philpapers leaf section on cp laws. 
Key works The orthodox starting points for this subject are: Fodor 1974Lange 2000.
Introductions Tobin web
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194 found
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  1. What makes the special sciences special – exploring scientific methodology in the special sciences.Emma Tobin - manuscript
    NOESIS, Cambridge Scholarly Press, 2005.
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  2. Ph.D. Abstract – On the Disunity of the Sciences.Emma Tobin - unknown - /A.
    This thesis examines the claim that the sciences are disunified. Chapter 1 outlines and introduces different accounts of the stratification of the sciences in the literature, in particular, Unificationism, Disunificationism, Eliminativism and Human Science Disunificationism. I argue that all of these competing views are informed by an ideal model for successful science. In particular, all of the views discussed are committed to the claim that a science requires laws to be considered scientifically legitimate. At the end of this chapter, the (...)
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  3. Humeanism and the Pragmatic Turn.Michael Townsen Hicks, Siegfried Jaag & Christian Loew - 2023 - In Christian Loew, Siegfried Jaag & Michael Townsen Hicks (eds.), Humean Laws for Human Agents. Oxford: Oxford UP. pp. 1-15.
    A central question in the philosophy of science is: What is a law of nature? Different answers to this question define an important schism: Humeans, in the wake of David Hume, hold that the laws of nature are nothing over and above what actually happens and reject irreducible facts about natural modality (Lewis, 1983, 1994; cf. Miller, 2015). According to Non-Humeans, by contrast, the laws are metaphysically fundamental (Maudlin, 2007) or grounded in primitive modal structures, such as dispositional essences of (...)
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  4. Chemistry’s metaphysics.Vanessa A. Seifert - 2023 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Tuomas E. Tahko.
    The place of chemistry in the metaphysics of science may be viewed as peripheral compared to physics and biology. However, a metaphysics of science that disregards chemistry would be incomplete and ill-informed. This Element establishes this claim by showing how key metaphysical issues are informed by drawing on chemistry. Five metaphysical topics are investigated: natural kinds, scientific realism, reduction, laws and causation. These topics are spelled out from the perspective of ten chemical case studies, each of which illuminates the novel (...)
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  5. Scientific explanation as ampliative, specialized embedding: the case of classical genetics.José Díez & Pablo Lorenzano - 2022 - Synthese 200 (6):1-25.
    Explanations in genetics have intriguing aspects to both biologists and philosophers, and there is no account that satisfactorily elucidates such explanations. The aim of this article is to analyze the kind of explanations usually given in Classical (Transmission) Genetics (CG) and to present in detail the application of an account of explanation as ampliative, specialized nomological embedding to elucidate the such explanations. First, we present explanations in CG in the classical format of inferences with the explanans as the premises and (...)
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  6. Special-science counterfactuals.Christian List - 2022 - The Monist 105 (2):194–213.
    On the standard analysis, a counterfactual conditional such as “If P had been the case, then Q would have been the case” is true in the actual world if, in all nearest possible worlds in which its antecedent (P) is true, its consequent (Q) is also true. Despite its elegance, this analysis faces a difficulty if the laws of nature are deterministic. Then the antecedent could not have been true, given prior conditions. So, it is unclear what the relevant “nearest (...)
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  7. Tractability and laws.Isaac Wilhelm - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-17.
    According to the Best System Account of lawhood, laws of nature are theorems of the deductive systems that best balance simplicity and strength. In this paper, I advocate a different account of lawhood which is related, in spirit, to the BSA: according to my account, laws are theorems of deductive systems that best balance simplicity, strength, and also calculational tractability. I discuss two problems that the BSA faces, and I show that my account solves them. I also use my account (...)
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  8. Laws of Nature and Individuals.Ranpal Dosanjh - 2021 - Philosophy 96 (1):49-72.
    Individuals are often the subject of generalizations of various special sciences. The traditional argument is that there can't be laws about such individuals, since the law statements would have to contain local predicates. Marc Lange argues that, despite local predication, there can be laws about individuals. This paper argues, on the contrary, that there can be no such laws – not because of local predication, but because the laws would discriminate among material systems on non-qualitative grounds. I rely on the (...)
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  9. The Metaphysics of Biology.John Dupré - 2021 - Cambridge University Press.
    This Element is an introduction to the metaphysics of biology, a very general account of the nature of the living world. The first part of the Element addresses more traditionally philosophical questions - whether biological systems are reducible to the properties of their physical parts, causation and laws of nature, substantialist and processualist accounts of life, and the nature of biological kinds. The second half will offer an understanding of important biological entities, drawing on the earlier discussions. This division should (...)
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  10. The Explanatory Autonomy of the Biological Sciences.Wei Fang - 2021 - New York: Routledge.
    This book argues for the explanatory autonomy of the biological sciences. It does so by showing that scientific explanations in the biological sciences cannot be reduced to explanations in the fundamental sciences such as physics and chemistry and by demonstrating that biological explanations are advanced by models rather than laws of nature. To maintain the explanatory autonomy of the biological sciences, the author argues against explanatory reductionism and shows that explanation in the biological sciences can be achieved without reduction. Then, (...)
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  11. Fundamental Laws of Nature and Picture of the World.Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Somsikov & Svetlana Nikolaevna Azarenko - 2021 - Open Journal of Philosophy 11 (2):292-306.
    The question of constructing an evolutionary picture of the world based on the results obtained by extending classical mechanics is considered. The expansion of mechanics arose as a result of taking into account the role of the structure of bodies in their dynamics. It is shown that such an extension leads to the possibility of combining branches of physics, in particular, to the substantiation of the laws of thermodynamics, statistical physics, kinetics within the framework of the laws of classical mechanics. (...)
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  12. Thinking about laws in political science (and beyond).Erik Weber, Karina Makhnev, Bert Leuridan, Kristian Gonzalez Barman & Thijs de Connick - 2021 - Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 52 (1).
    There are several theses in political science that are usually explicitly called ‘laws’. Other theses are generally thought of as laws, but often without being explicitly labelled as such. Still other claims are well-supported and arguably interesting, while no one would be tempted to call them laws. This situation raises philosophical questions: which theses deserve to be called laws and which not? And how should we decide about this? In this paper we develop and motivate a strategy for thinking about (...)
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  13. Laws, Exceptions and Dispositions.Max Kistler - 2020 - JOLMA 1 (1):53-74.
    Can laws of nature be universal regularities and nevertheless have exceptions? Several answers to this question, in particular the thesis that there are no laws outside of fundamental physics, are examined and rejected. It is suggested that one can account for exceptions by conceiving of laws as strictly universal determination relations between (instances of) properties. When a natural property is instantiated, laws of nature give rise to other, typically dispositional properties. In exceptional situations, such properties manifest themselves either in an (...)
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  14. Laws, Models, and Theories in Biology: A Unifying Interpretation.Pablo Lorenzano - 2020 - In Lorenzo Baravalle & Luciana Zaterka (eds.), Life and Evolution, History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences. pp. 163-207.
    Three metascientific concepts that have been object of philosophical analysis are the concepts oflaw, model and theory. The aim ofthis article is to present the explication of these concepts, and of their relationships, made within the framework of Sneedean or Metatheoretical Structuralism (Balzer et al. 1987), and of their application to a case from the realm of biology: Population Dynamics. The analysis carried out will make it possible to support, contrary to what some philosophers of science in general and of (...)
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  15. The Compatibility of Evolution and Classical Metaphysics.Dennis F. Polis - 2020 - Studia Gilsoniana 9 (4):549–585.
    The compatibility of evolution with Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics is defended in response to Fr. Michal Chaberek’s thesis of incompatibility. The motivation and structure of Darwin’s theory are reviewed, including the roles of secondary causality, randomness and necessity. “Randomness” is an analogous term whose evolutionary use, while challenging, is fully compatible with theism. Evolution’s necessity derives from the laws of nature, which are intentional realities, the vehicle of divine providence. Methodological analysis shows that metaphysics lacks the evidentiary basis to judge biological theories. (...)
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  16. Should Special Science Laws Be Written into the Semantics of Counterfactuals?Daniel Dohrn - 2019 - Kairos 22 (1):86-108.
    Adam Elga has presented an anti-thermodynamic process as a counterexample to Lewis’s default semantics for counterfactuals. The outstanding reaction of Jonathan Schaffer and Boris Kment is revisionary. It sacrifices Lewis’s aim of defining causation in terms of counterfactual dependence. Lewis himself suggested an alternative: «counter-entropic funnybusiness» should make for dissimilarity. But how is this alternative to be spelled out? I discuss a recent proposal: include special science laws, among them the laws of thermodynamics. Although the proposal fails, it serves to (...)
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  17. David Lewis' Best System Analysis and CP Laws.Ömer Fatih Tekin - 2019 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 9 (9:1):01-12.
    In this paper, I aim to explore Lewis’s best system analysis and how it can accommodate laws with exceptions. The Best System Account has been introduced to provide an alternative view for both minimalist and counterfactual theories of regularities. Simple regularity theory faces problems in which there is some generalization that seems to be a law or some regularities that are established accidentally. It tries to exclude the accidental generalization from the account. However, the best system analysis can solve the (...)
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  18. The Many Roads to Generality in Ecology.Jeremy W. Fox - 2019 - Philosophical Topics 47 (1):83-103.
    The variety of nature presents a challenge for ecologists. Individual organisms differ from one another in ways both obvious and subtle, even if they’re members of the same species living in the same location. Different populations, species, communities, ecosystems, biomes, habitats, food webs, etc. also differ from another. What, if anything, can be said in general about ecological systems and how they work? If there are generalities in ecology, do they take the form of exceptionless “laws of nature” analogous to (...)
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  19. General Unificatory Theories in Community Ecology.Christopher Hunter Lean - 2019 - Philosophical Topics 47 (1):125-142.
    The question of whether there are laws of nature in ecology has developed substantially in the last 20 years. Many have attempted to rehabilitate ecology’s lawlike status through establishing that ecology possesses laws that robustly appear across many different ecological systems. I argue that there is still something missing, which explains why so many have been skeptical of ecology’s lawlike status. Community ecology has struggled to establish what I call a General Unificatory Theory. The lack of a GUT causes problems (...)
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  20. Humeanism, Best System Laws, and Emergence.Olivier Sartenaer - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (4):719-738.
    In the current article and contrary to a widespread assumption, I argue that Humeanism and ontological emergence can peacefully coexist. Such a coexistence can be established by reviving elements of John Stuart Mill’s philosophy of science, in which an idiosyncratic account of diachronic emergence is associated with extensions of the Humean mosaic and the correlative coming into being of new best system laws, which have the peculiarity of being temporally indexed. Incidentally, this reconciliation of Humeanism and emergence allows for conceiving (...)
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  21. What’s the Point of Ceteris Paribus? or, How to Understand Supply and Demand Curves.Jennifer S. Jhun - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (2):271-292.
    Philosophers sometimes claim that economics, and the idealizing strategies it employs, is ultimately unable to provide genuine laws of nature. Therefore, unlike physics, it does not qualify as an actual science. Careful consideration of thermodynamics, a well-developed physical theory, reveals substantial parallels with economic methodology. The corrective account of scientific understanding I offer appreciates these parallels: understanding in terms of efficient performance.
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  22. Laws in Biology and the Unity of Nature.Angela Breitenbach - 2017 - In Michela Massimi & Angela Breitenbach (eds.), Kant and the Laws of Nature. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 237-255.
    Kant's views on the laws of nature in the physical and life sciences.
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  23. How to define levels of explanation and evaluate their indispensability.Christopher Clarke - 2017 - Synthese 194 (6).
    Some explanations in social science, psychology and biology belong to a higher level than other explanations. And higher explanations possess the virtue of abstracting away from the details of lower explanations, many philosophers argue. As a result, these higher explanations are irreplaceable. And this suggests that there are genuine higher laws or patterns involving social, psychological and biological states. I show that this ‘abstractness argument’ is really an argument schema, not a single argument. This is because the argument uses the (...)
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  24. ¿Son a priori los modelos explicativos de la selección natural?José Díez & Pablo Lorenzano - 2017 - Metatheoria – Revista de Filosofía E Historia de la Ciencia 8:31--42.
    The epistemic status of Natural Selection has intrigued to biologists and philosophers since the very beginning of the theory to our present times. One prominent contemporary example is Elliott Sober, who claims that Natural Selection, and some other theories in biology, and maybe in economics, are peculiar in including explanatory models/conditionals that are a priori in a sense in which explanatory models/conditionals in Classical Mechanics and most other standard theories are not. In this paper, by analyzing what we take to (...)
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  25. Economics without Laws. Towards a New Philosophy of Economics.Łukasz Hardt - 2017 - Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
    This book offers a vision of economics in which there is no place for universal laws of nature, and even for laws of a more probabilistic character. The author avoids interpreting the practice of economics as something that leads to the formulation of universal laws or laws of nature. Instead, chapters in the book follow the method of contemporary philosophy of science: rather than formulating suggestions for practicing scientists of how they should do research, the text describes and interprets the (...)
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  26. Manipulationism, Ceteris Paribus Laws, and the Bugbear of Background Knowledge.Robert Kowalenko - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (3):261-283.
    According to manipulationist accounts of causal explanation, to explain an event is to show how it could be changed by intervening on its cause. The relevant change must be a ‘serious possibility’ claims Woodward 2003, distinct from mere logical or physical possibility—approximating something I call ‘scientific possibility’. This idea creates significant difficulties: background knowledge is necessary for judgments of possibility. Yet the primary vehicles of explanation in manipulationism are ‘invariant’ generalisations, and these are not well adapted to encoding such knowledge, (...)
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  27. Explanations of exceptions in biology: corrective asymmetry versus autonomy.Jani Raerinne - 2017 - Synthese 194 (12):5073-5092.
    It is often argued that biological generalizations have a distinctive and special status by comparison with the generalizations of other natural sciences, such as that biological generalizations are riddled with exceptions defying systematic and simple treatment. This special status of biology is used as a premise in arguments that posit a deprived explanatory, nomological, or methodological status in the biological sciences. I will discuss the traditional and still almost universally held idea that the biological sciences cannot deal with exceptions and (...)
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  28. The Emergence of Better Best System Laws.Markus Schrenk - 2017 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 48 (3):469-483.
    The better best system account, short BBSA, is a variation on Lewis’s theory of laws. The difference to the latter is that the BBSA suggests that best system analyses can be executed for any fixed set of properties. This affords the possibility to launch system analyses separately for the set of biological properties yielding the set of biological laws, chemical properties yielding chemical laws, and so on for the other special sciences. As such, the BBSA remains silent about possible interrelations (...)
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  29. Popper’s Shifting Appraisal of Evolutionary Theory.Elliott Sober & Mehmet Elgin - 2017 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 7 (1):31-55.
    Karl Popper argued in 1974 that evolutionary theory contains no testable laws and is therefore a metaphysical research program. Four years later, he said that he had changed his mind. Here we seek to understand Popper’s initial position and his subsequent retraction. We argue, contrary to Popper’s own assessment, that he did not change his mind at all about the substance of his original claim. We also explore how Popper’s views have ramifications for contemporary discussion of the nature of laws (...)
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  30. Dappled Science in a Unified World.Michael Strevens - 2017 - In H.-K. Chao, J. Reiss & S.-T. Chen (eds.), Philosophy of Science in Practice: Nancy Cartwright and the Nature of Scientific Reasoning. Springer.
    Science as we know it is “dappled”. Its picture of the world is a mosaic in which different aspects of the world, different systems, are represented by narrow-scope theories or models that are largely disconnected from one another. The best explanation for this disunity in our representation of the world, Nancy Cartwright has proposed, is a disunity in the world itself: rather than being governed by a small set of strict fundamental laws, events unfold according to a patchwork of principles (...)
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  31. Are social mechanisms the antonym of laws?Amparo Gómez Rodríguez - 2015 - Epistemologia 38 (1):31-46.
    The thesis that in social sciences causal explanations are possible only in terms o mechanisms due to the lack of genuine laws has been increasingly popular among social scientist and philosophers. In this article it is examined whether the explanation by mechanism is necessarily an explanation without laws or, on the contrary, it can involve some kind o laws. To this end it is argued, firstly, that mechanisms are not always the antonym of law insofar as they express propensities and (...)
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  32. Evolutionary Contingency, Stability, and Biological Laws.Jani Raerinne - 2015 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 46 (1):45-62.
    The contingency of biological regularities—and its implications for the existence of biological laws—has long puzzled biologists and philosophers. The best argument for the contingency of biological regularities is John Beatty’s evolutionary contingency thesis, which will be re-analyzed here. First, I argue that in Beatty’s thesis there are two versions of strong contingency used as arguments against biological laws that have gone unnoticed by his commentators. Second, Beatty’s two different versions of strong contingency are analyzed in terms of two different stabilities (...)
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  33. 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 (...)
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  34. Ceteris Paribus Laws: A Naturalistic Account.Robert Kowalenko - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (2):133-155.
    An otherwise lawlike generalisation hedged by a ceteris paribus (CP) clause qualifies as a law of nature, if the CP clause can be substituted with a set of conditions derived from the multivariate regression model used to interpret the empirical data in support of the gen- eralisation. Three studies in human biology that use regression analysis are surveyed, showing that standard objections to cashing out CP clauses in this way—based on alleged vagueness, vacuity, or lack of testability—do not apply. CP (...)
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  35. What is the Status of the Hardy-Weinberg Law within Population Genetics?Pablo Lorenzano - 2014 - Vienna Circle Institute Yearbook 17:159-172.
    The aim of this paper is to further develop van Fraassen’s diagnosis, expanding a previous analysis of the fundamental law of classical genetics and the status of the so-called ‘Mendel’s laws’.6 According to this diagnosis the Hardy-Weinberg law: 1) cannot be considered as axiom (or fundamental law) for classical population genetics, since it is a law that describes an equilibrium that 2) holds only under certain special conditions, and 3) only determines a subclass of models, 4) whose generalized form (and (...)
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  36. Do Statistical Laws Solve the 'Problem of Provisos'?Alexander Reutlinger - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1759-1773.
    In their influential paper “Ceteris Paribus, There is No Problem of Provisos”, Earman and Roberts (Synthese 118:439–478, 1999) propose to interpret the non-strict generalizations of the special sciences as statistical generalizations about correlations. I call this view the “statistical account”. Earman and Roberts claim that statistical generalizations are not qualified by “non-lazy” ceteris paribus conditions. The statistical account is an attractive view, since it looks exactly like what everybody wants: it is a simple and intelligible theory of special science laws (...)
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  37. Better Best Systems and the Issue of CP-Laws.Markus Schrenk - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1787-1799.
    This paper combines two ideas: (1) That the Lewisian best system analysis of lawhood (BSA) can cope with laws that have exceptions (cf. Braddon-Mitchell in Noûs 35(2):260–277, 2001; Schrenk in The metaphysics of ceteris paribus laws. Ontos, Frankfurt, 2007). (2) That a BSA can be executed not only on the mosaic of perfectly natural properties but also on any set of special science properties (cf., inter alia, Schrenk 2007, Selected papers contributed to the sections of GAP.6, 6th international congress of (...)
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  38. Statistical Mechanical Imperialism.Brad Weslake - 2014 - In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 241-257.
    I argue against the claim, advanced by David Albert and Barry Loewer, that all non-fundamental laws can be derived from those required to underwrite the second law of thermodynamics.
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  39. Chapter Two. Laws, Mechanisms, and Models.Peter Godfrey-Smith - 2013 - In Philosophy of Biology. Princeton: Princeton University Press. pp. 11-27.
  40. On the Distinction Between Law Schemata and Causal Laws.Jens Harbecke - 2013 - Acta Analytica 28 (4):423-434.
    The paper argues against the widely accepted assumption that the causal laws of (completed) physics, in contrast to those of the special sciences, are essentially strict. This claim played an important role already in debates about the anomalousness of the mental, and it currently experiences a renaissance in various discussions about mental causation, projectability of special science laws, and the nature of physical laws. By illustrating the distinction with some paradigmatic physical laws, the paper demonstrates that only law schemata are (...)
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  41. From Necessary Chances to Biological Laws.Chris Haufe - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (2):279-295.
    In this article, I propose a new way of thinking about natural necessity and a new way of thinking about biological laws. I suggest that much of the lack of progress in making a positive case for distinctively biological laws is that we’ve been looking for necessity in the wrong place. The trend has been to look for exceptionlessness at the level of the outcomes of biological processes and to build one’s claims about necessity off of that. However, as Beatty (...)
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  42. Against the Statistical Account of Special Science Laws.Andreas Hüttemann & Alexander Reutlinger - 2013 - In Vassilios Karakostas & Dennis Dieks (eds.), Recent Progress in Philosophy of Science: Perspectives and Foundational Problems. The Third European Philosophy of Science Association Proceedings. Springer. pp. 181-192.
    John Earman and John T. Roberts advocate a challenging and radical claim regarding the semantics of laws in the special sciences: the statistical account. According to this account, a typical special science law “asserts a certain precisely defined statistical relation among well-defined variables” and this statistical relation does not require being hedged by ceteris paribus conditions. In this paper, we raise two objections against the attempt to cash out the content of special science generalizations in statistical terms.
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  43. Mechanisms and Laws: Clarifying the Debate.Marie I. Kaiser & C. F. Craver - 2013 - In Hsiang-Ke Chao, Szu-Ting Chen & Roberta L. Millstein (eds.), Mechanism and Causality in Biology and Economics. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 125-145.
    Leuridan (2011) questions whether mechanisms can really replace laws at the heart of our thinking about science. In doing so, he enters a long-standing discussion about the relationship between the mech-anistic structures evident in the theories of contemporary biology and the laws of nature privileged especially in traditional empiricist traditions of the philosophy of science (see e.g. Wimsatt 1974; Bechtel and Abrahamsen 2005; Bogen 2005; Darden 2006; Glennan 1996; MDC 2000; Schaffner 1993; Tabery 2003; Weber 2005). In our view, Leuridan (...)
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  44. Must Structural Realism Cover the Special Sciences?Holger Lyre - 2013 - In Vassilios Karakostas & Dennis Dieks (eds.), EPSA11 Perspectives and Foundational Problems in Philosophy of Science. Cham: Springer. pp. 383--390.
    Structural Realism (SR) is typically rated as a moderate realist doctrine about the ultimate entities of nature described by fundamental physics. Whether it must be extended to the higher-level special sciences is not so clear. In this short paper I argue that there is no need to ‘structuralize’ the special sciences. By mounting concrete examples I show that structural descriptions and structural laws certainly play a role in the special sciences, but that they don’t play any exclusive role nor that (...)
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  45. 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 (...)
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  46. Probabilities, Laws, and Structures.Dennis Dieks, Wenceslao J. Gonzalez, Stephan Hartmann, Michael Stöltzner & Marcel Weber (eds.) - 2012 - Springer.
    This volume, the third in this Springer series, contains selected papers from the four workshops organized by the ESF Research Networking Programme "The Philosophy of Science in a European Perspective" in 2010: Pluralism in the Foundations of Statistics Points of Contact between the Philosophy of Physics and the Philosophy of Biology The Debate on Mathematical Modeling in the Social Sciences Historical Debates about Logic, Probability and Statistics The volume is accordingly divided in four sections, each of them containing papers coming (...)
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  47. Mathematical biology and the existence of biological laws.Mauro Dorato - 2012 - In D. Dieks, S. Hartmann, T. Uebel & M. Weber (eds.), Probabilities, Laws and Structure. Springer.
    An influential position in the philosophy of biology claims that there are no biological laws, since any apparently biological generalization is either too accidental, fact-like or contingent to be named a law, or is simply reducible to physical laws that regulate electrical and chemical interactions taking place between merely physical systems. In the following I will stress a neglected aspect of the debate that emerges directly from the growing importance of mathematical models of biological phenomena. My main aim is to (...)
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  48. Against Laws in the Special Sciences.Jaegwon Kim - 2012 - Journal of Philosophical Research 37 (9999):103-122.
    The traditional view of science holds that science is essentially nomothetic—that is, the defining characteristic of science is that it seeks to discover and formulate laws for the phenomena in its domain, and that laws are required for explanation and prediction. This paper advances the thesis that there are no laws in the special sciences, sciences other than fundamental physics, and that this does not impugn their status as sciences. Toward this end, two arguments are presented. The first begins with (...)
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  49. Multiple Realizability and Biological Laws.Jani P. Raerinne & Markus I. Eronen - 2012 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 34 (4):521-537.
    We critically analyze Alexander Rosenberg’s argument based on the multiple realizability of biological properties that there are no biological laws. The argument is intuitive and suggestive. Nevertheless, a closer analysis reveals that the argument rests on dubious assumptions about the nature of natural selection, laws of nature, and multiple realizability. We also argue that the argument is limited in scope, since it applies to an outmoded account of laws and the applicability of the argument to other more promising accounts of (...)
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  50. On ceteris paribus laws in economics (and elsewhere): why do social sciences matter to each other?Menno Rol - 2012 - Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics 5 (2):27.
    Stipulating universal propositions with a ceteris paribus clause is normal practice in science and especially in economics. Yet there are several problems associated with the use of ceteris paribus clauses in theorising and in policy matters. This paper first investigates three questions: how can ceteris paribus clauses be non-vacuous? How can ceteris paribus laws be true? And how can they help in formulating successful policy interventions in a diversity of contexts? It turns out that ceteris paribus clauses are not always (...)
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