The Governing Conception of Laws

Ergo (forthcoming)


In her paper, “The Non-Governing Conception of Laws,” Helen Beebee argues that it is not a conceptual truth that laws of nature govern, and thus that one need not insist on a metaphysical account of laws that makes sense of their governing role. I agree with the first point but not the second. Although it is not a conceptual truth, the fact that laws govern follows straightforwardly from an important (though under-appreciated) principle of scientific theory choice combined with a highly plausible claim about the connection between scientific theory choice and theory choice in metaphysics. I present and defend this argument and then show how the resulting understanding of governance gives rise to an especially strong version of recent explanatory circularity arguments against Humeanism about laws of nature. Finally, I present three options for a further understanding of the governance relation that are compatible with my argument.

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Author's Profile

Nina Emery
Mount Holyoke College

References found in this work

Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: Metaphysics, Logic, and Epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
On What Grounds What.Jonathan Schaffer - 2009 - In David Manley, David J. Chalmers & Ryan Wasserman (eds.), Metametaphysics: New Essays on the Foundations of Ontology. Oxford University Press. pp. 347-383.
The Metaphysics Within Physics.Tim Maudlin - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
Grounding in the Image of Causation.Jonathan Schaffer - 2016 - Philosophical Studies 173 (1):49-100.
Grounding: Toward a Theory of the I N-Virtue-Of Relation.Paul Audi - 2012 - Journal of Philosophy 109 (12):685-711.

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Citations of this work

The Power to Govern.Erica Shumener - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.

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