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

John Earman
University of Pittsburgh
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
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s) 0031-8205  
DOI 10.2307/2107778
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 38,077
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

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.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Psychological Laws.William G. Lycan - 1981 - Philosophical Topics 12 (3):9-38.
In Defense of Psychological Laws.Martin Carrier - 1998 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 12 (3):217 – 232.
Handguns, Philosophers, and the Right to Self-Defense.Nicholas Dixon - 2011 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 25 (2):151-170.
Laws in Physics.Mathias Frisch - 2014 - European Review 22:S33-S49.


Added to PP index

Total views
29 ( #234,747 of 2,313,316 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
5 ( #156,398 of 2,313,316 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature