Are Fundamental Laws Necessary or Contingent?

In Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke & Matthew H. Slater (eds.), Carving Nature at its Joints: Natural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science. MIT Press. pp. 97-112 (2011)
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Abstract

This chapter focuses on the dispute between necessitarians and contingentists, mainly addressing the issue as to whether laws of nature are metaphysically necessary or metaphysically contingent with a weaker kind of necessity, commonly referred to as natural, nomological, or nomic necessity. It is assumed here that all fundamental properties are dispositional or role properties, making the dispute a strictly verbal one. The existence of categorical intrinsic properties as well as dispositional properties is also assumed and the relationship between them examined. Finally, the chapter concludes by returning to the debate between necessitarians and contingentists under the assumption that both dispositional and categorical fundamental properties exist. It is argued here that necessitarian positions can be recast as contingentist, but that there are unequivocally contingentist positions preferred because they are less mysterious despite being ontologically more complex.

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Noa Latham
University of Calgary

Citations of this work

Functionalism.Janet Levin - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Anomalous monism.Steven Yalowitz - 2005 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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