Synthese 195 (3):1337-1353 (2018)

Authors
Marc Lange
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Abstract
Humean accounts of natural lawhood have often been criticized as unable to account for the laws’ characteristic explanatory power in science. Loewer has replied that these criticisms fail to distinguish grounding explanations from scientific explanations. Lange has replied by arguing that grounding explanations and scientific explanations are linked by a transitivity principle, which can be used to argue that Humean accounts of natural law violate the prohibition on self-explanation. Lange’s argument has been sharply criticized by Hicks and van Elswyk, Marshall, and Miller. This paper shows how Lange’s argument can withstand these criticisms once the transitivity principle and the prohibition on self-explanation are properly refined. The transitivity principle should be refined to accommodate contrasts in the explanans and explanandum. The prohibition on self-explanation should be refined so that it precludes a given fact p from helping to explain why some other fact q helps to explain why p. In this way, the transitivity principle avoids having counterintuitive consequences in cases involving macrostates having multiple possible microrealizations. The transitivity principle is perfectly compatible with the irreducibility of macroexplanations to microexplanations and with the diversity of the relations that can underwrite scientific explanations.
Keywords Laws   Explanation
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-016-1274-y
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References found in this work BETA

Philosophical Papers.David Kellogg Lewis - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
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.
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Citations of this work BETA

Nomothetic Explanation and Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - In Karen Bennett & Dean W. Zimmerman (eds.), Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, volume 12. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 164–202.
The Structure of Epistemic Probabilities.Nevin Climenhaga - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (11):3213-3242.
Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (8):1-10.
Non‐Humean Theories of Natural Necessity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (5):1-1.

View all 20 citations / Add more citations

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