Humean Nomic Essentialism

Noûs (forthcoming)
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Abstract

Humeanism -- the idea that there are no necessary connections between distinct existences -- and Nomic Essentialism -- the idea that properties essentially play the nomic roles that they do -- are two of the most important and influential positions in the metaphysics of science. Traditionally, it has been thought that these positions were incompatible competitors. We disagree. We argue that there is an attractive version of Humeanism that captures the idea that, for example, mass essentially plays the role that it actually does in the laws of nature. In this paper we consider the arguments that have lead many to conclude that Humeanism cannot be combined with Nomic Essentialism; we identify the weaknesses in these arguments; and we argue in detail that a version of Humeanism based on a variant of the Best System account of laws captures the key intuitions behind nomic essentialism.

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Author Profiles

Zee R. Perry
New York University, Shanghai
Harjit Bhogal
University of Maryland, College Park

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References found in this work

New Work for a Theory of Universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement.Nancy Cartwright - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
What is a Law of Nature?D. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.

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