Philosophical Review (forthcoming)

Authors
Eddy Keming Chen
University of California, San Diego
Abstract
If there are fundamental laws of nature, can they fail to be exact? In this paper, I consider the possibility that some fundamental laws are vague. I call this phenomenon 'fundamental nomic vagueness.' I characterize fundamental nomic vagueness as the existence of borderline lawful worlds and the presence of several other accompanying features. Under certain assumptions, such vagueness prevents the fundamental physical theory from being completely expressible in the mathematical language. Moreover, I suggest that such vagueness can be regarded as 'vagueness in the world.' For a case study, we turn to the Past Hypothesis, a postulate that (partially) explains the direction of time in our world. We have reasons to take it seriously as a candidate fundamental law of nature. Yet it is vague: it admits borderline (nomologically) possible worlds. An exact version would lead to an untraceable arbitrariness absent in any other fundamental laws. However, the dilemma between fundamental nomic vagueness and untraceable arbitrariness is dissolved in a new quantum theory of time's arrow.
Keywords vagueness  exactness  higher-order vagueness  semanticism  epistemicism  imprecise probabilities  laws of nature  Past Hypothesis  time's arrow  Humeanism
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References found in this work BETA

Writing the Book of the World.Theodore Sider - 2011 - Oxford University Press.
New Work for a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
Philosophical Papers Vol. II.David K. Lewis - 1986 - Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Past Hypothesis and the Nature of Physical Laws.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Barry Loewer, Eric Winsberg & Brad Weslake (eds.), Time's Arrows and the Probability Structure of the World. Harvard University Press.
The Cosmic Void.Eddy Keming Chen - forthcoming - In Sara Bernstein & Tyron Goldschmidt (eds.), Non-Being: New Essays on the Metaphysics of Nonexistence. Oxford University Press.

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