Analysis 61 (4):267–274 (2001)

Alexander James Bird
Cambridge University
In this paper I aim to show that a certain law of nature, namely that common salt (sodium chloride) dissolves in water, is metaphysically necessary. The importance of this result is that it conflicts with a widely shared intuition that the laws of nature (most if not all) are contingent. There have been debates over whether some laws, such as Newton’s second law, might be definitional of their key terms and hence necessary. But the law that salt dissolves in water is not that kind of law. The law statement ‘salt dissolves in water’ is clearly synthetic. It appears a classic case of a contingent law. We like to believe that there are possible worlds in which the laws of nature are different and in which salt does not dissolve in water.
Keywords laws necessity
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DOI 10.1111/1467-8284.00304
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References found in this work BETA

Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1981 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.
Dispositions.Stephen Mumford - 1998 - Clarendon Press.
Dispositional Essentialism.Brian Ellis & Caroline Lierse - 1994 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 72 (1):27 – 45.
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The Nature of the Chemical Bond.Linus Pauling - 1941 - Philosophy of Science 8 (1):133-133.

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Citations of this work BETA

What is Hume's Dictum, and Why Believe It?Jessica Wilson - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (3):595 - 637.
The Dispositionalist Conception of Laws.Alexander Bird - 2005 - Foundations of Science 10 (4):353-70.
What is Hume’s Dictum, and Why Believe It?Jessica Wilson - 2010 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 80 (3):595-637.

View all 31 citations / Add more citations

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Unexpected a Posteriori Necessary Laws of Nature.Alexander Bird - 2005 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (4):533 – 548.
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What a Law of Nature Is.W. Russ Payne - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
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