Authors
Chris Dorst
University of Florida
Abstract
This article argues for a revised best system account of laws of nature. David Lewis’s original BSA has two main elements. On the one hand, there is the Humean base, which is the totality of particular matters of fact that obtain in the history of the universe. On the other hand, there is what I call the ‘nomic formula’, which is a particular operation that gets applied to the Humean base in order to output the laws of nature. My revised account focuses on this latter element of the view. Lewis conceives of the nomic formula as a balance of simplicity and strength, but I argue that this is a mistake. Instead, I motivate and develop a different proposal for the standards that figure into the nomic formula, and I suggest a rationale for why these should be the correct standards. Specifically, I argue that the nomic formula should be conceived as a collection of desiderata designed to generate principles that are predictively useful to creatures like us. The resulting view—which I call the ‘best predictive system’ account of laws—is thus able to explain why scientists are interested in discovering the laws, and it also gives rise to laws with the sorts of features that we find in actual scientific practice 1Introduction2The LOPP3A Problem with Lewis's Formula4A Pragmatic Account of the Nomic Formula 4.1Informative dynamics4.2Wide applicability4.3Spatial locality4.4Temporal locality4.5Spatial, temporal, and rotational symmetries4.6Predictively useful properties4.7Simplicity4.8Recap5 Conclusion
Keywords Laws of Nature  Humeanism  Best Systems Account
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Reprint years 2017, 2019
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axy016
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References found in this work BETA

New Work for a Theory of Universals.David Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
Philosophical Papers.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Humean Supervenience Debugged.David Lewis - 1994 - Mind 103 (412):473--490.

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Citations of this work BETA

Non‐Humean Theories of Natural Necessity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (5):1-1.
Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (8):1-10.

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