Are Causal Laws Contingent?

In John Bacon, Keith Campbell & Lloyd Reinhardt (eds.), Ontology, Causality and Mind: Essays in Honour of D.M. Armstrong. Cambridge University Press (1993)

Evan Fales
University of Iowa
It has been nearly a decade and a half since Fred Dretske, David Armstrong and Michael Tooley, having each rejected the Regularity theory, independently proposed that natural laws are grounded in a second-order relation that somehow binds together universals.' (l shall call this the ‘DTA theory’). In this way they sought to overcome the major - and notorious — shortcomings of every version of the Regularity theory: how to provide truth conditions for laws that lack instances; how to distinguish laws from accidental generalizations; how to provide truth conditions for the counterfactuals and disposition statements that laws apparently ‘support’; how to justify inductive inferences from past events to laws and future events. For each of these puzzles, an apparently key element in the solution seems to be missing from Regularity theories. That missing element is a genuine connection, a relation with more than merely spatial and/or temporal content, linking the antecedent of a law to its consequent. Once such an additional objective element - however understood — is admitted to be essential to the analysis of laws, one is forced to give up the idea that the logical form of laws can be given in terms of quantifiers ranging over events or states of alfairs, and truth-functions.
Keywords DTA account  Regularity Theory
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