In Defense of Laws: Reflections on Bas van Fraassen's Laws and Symmetry

Authors
John Earman
University of Pittsburgh
Abstract
The topic of laws of nature provides a kind of Rorschach test for philosophy. Some philosophers see in laws only Humean regularities; others see a kind of physical necessity; others see a necessity closer to logical necessity; others see expressions of causal powers; others see inference tickets; still others see relations between universals; ... ; and some see only a messy inkblot. We can also perform a meta-Rorschach test on the results of the first test. When van Fraassen and I submit ourselves to this meta-test we both recoil with shock and horror. Where we differ is in drawing morals from this un- pleasant experience. For me the opprobrium falls mainly on the way philos- ophy is practiced. For van Fraassen, the disgrace also touches the practice, but for him the source is the rottenness of the concept of laws.
Keywords Analytic Philosophy  Contemporary Philosophy  Philosophy of Mind
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ISBN(s) 0031-8205  
DOI 10.2307/2107778
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A Better Best System Account of Lawhood.Jonathan Cohen & Craig Callender - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (1):1 - 34.
Laws and Lawlessness.Stephen Mumford - 2005 - Synthese 144 (3):397-413.

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