Marc Lange. Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature

Spontaneous Generations 4 (1):266-269 (2010)

Christopher Belanger
University of Toronto
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 a degree of necessity. For example, if the only music ever to come out of my stereo system during the entirety of its existence were that of James Brown, we would term this an accidental regularity: it seems that it could have been otherwise had the world been different, perhaps by the stereo having a different owner or my having different tastes. On the other hand, the various relations and properties that determine the electrical functioning of my stereo seem more necessary and lawlike: presumably Ohm’s law would have held even had my stereo never been built.1 But even if Ohm’s law is somehow necessary, it seems less necessary than other “broadly logical” truths. Certainly Ohm’s law could have been different, perhaps by a factor of two, yet it seems unreasonable to say that the number 6 could have been prime. Although many philosophers, and certainly most scientists, will readily agree that there is a difference between logical, law-like, and accidental regularities, spelling out the nature of this difference has proved a remarkably difficult task. It is precisely this puzzle which Lange intends Laws and Lawmakers to address. In this review I shall first give a quick and broad outline of Lange’s account of natural laws as I understand it, followed by a brief summary of the contents of the book, and then close with a few critical comments
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.4245/sponge.v4i1.12682
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 46,238
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature. [REVIEW]Barry Ward - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43 (2):155-158.
Lange's Challenge: Accounting for Meta-Laws.Z. Yudell - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (2):347-369.
Natural Laws in Scientific Practice.Marc Lange - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Lange and Laws, Kinds, and Counterfactuals.Alexander Bird - 2011 - In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints. MIT Press.
Why Are the Laws of Nature so Important to Science?Marc Lange - 1999 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 59 (3):625-652.
Where No Mind Has Gone Before: Exploring Laws in Distant and Lonely Worlds.Matthew H. Slater & Chris Haufe - 2009 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 23 (3):265-276.
Could the Laws of Nature Change?Marc Lange - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (1):69-92.


Added to PP index

Total views
240 ( #29,486 of 2,285,780 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
9 ( #107,111 of 2,285,780 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature