Are all laws of nature created equal? Meta-laws versus more necessary laws

Erkenntnis:1-19 (2023)
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Abstract

Two approaches to elevating certain laws of nature over others have come to prominence recently. On the one hand, according to the meta-laws approach, there are meta-laws, laws which relate to laws as those laws relate to particular facts. On the other hand, according to the modal, or non-absolutist, approach, some laws are necessary in a stricter sense than others. Both approaches play an important role in current research, questioning the ‘orthodoxy’ represented by the leading philosophical theories of natural laws—Humeanism, the DTA view, dispositional essentialism and primitivism. This paper clarifies the relations between these two emerging approaches, as well as their applicability to physical laws and the status of the challenges they pose for standard theories of laws of nature. We first argue that, despite some significant similarities between the two approaches (especially in the context of Lange’s counterfactual account of laws), they are in general distinct and largely independent of each other. Then, we argue that the support for meta-laws from physical theory and practice is more questionable than usually presented.

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Author Profiles

Salim Hirèche
University of Geneva (PhD)
Robert Michels
Universidade de Lisboa
Niels Linnemann
University of Geneva

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References found in this work

What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - New York: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Sydney Shoemaker.
Nature's Metaphysics: Laws and Properties.Alexander Bird - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Foundations of Language 13 (1):145-151.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Philosophy of Science 42 (3):341-344.

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