Australasian Journal of Philosophy 83 (4):533 – 548 (2005)

Authors
Alexander James Bird
Cambridge University
Abstract
In this paper I argue that it is not a priori that all the laws of nature are contingent. I assume that the fundamental laws are contingent and show that some non-trivial, a posteriori, non-basic laws may nonetheless be necessary in the sense of having no counterinstances in any possible world. I consider a law LS (such as 'salt dissolves in water') that concerns a substance S. Kripke's arguments concerning constitution show that the existence of S requires that a certain deeper level law or variants thereof hold. At the same time, that law and its variants may each entail the truth of LS. Thus the existence of S entails LS. Consequently there is no world in which S exists and fails to obey LS. I consider the conditions concerning the fundamental laws that would make this phenomenon ubiquitous. I conclude with some consequences for metaphysics.
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DOI 10.1080/00048400500338799
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David Kellogg Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
Fact, Fiction, and Forecast.Nelson Goodman - 1955 - Harvard University Press.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 431-433.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Necessary Laws and Chemical Kinds.Nora Berenstain - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (4):631-647.
… And Then Again, He Might Not Be.Alexander Bird - 2009 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 87 (3):517-521.

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Necessarily, Salt Dissolves in Water.Alexander Bird - 2001 - Analysis 61 (4):267–274.
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Laws of Nature.Norman Swartz - 2001 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
The Dispositionalist Conception of Laws.Alexander Bird - 2005 - Foundations of Science 10 (4):353-70.
On Whether Some Laws Are Necessary.Alexander Bird - 2002 - Analysis 62 (3):257–270.

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