Synthese 198 (3):2551-2612 (forthcoming)

Christian List
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München
Scientists often think of the world as a dynamical system, a stochastic process, or a generalization of such a system. Prominent examples of systems are the system of planets orbiting the sun or any other classical mechanical system, a hydrogen atom or any other quantum–mechanical system, and the earth’s atmosphere or any other statistical mechanical system. We introduce a general and unified framework for describing such systems and show how it can be used to examine some familiar philosophical questions, including the following: how can we define nomological possibility, necessity, determinism, and indeterminism; what are symmetries and laws; what regularities must a system display to make scientific inference possible; how might principles of parsimony such as Occam’s Razor help when we make such inferences; what is the role of space and time in a system; and might they be emergent features? Our framework is intended to serve as a toolbox for the formal analysis of systems that is applicable in several areas of philosophy.
Keywords Dynamical systems  Stochastic processes  Nomological possibility and necessity  Determinism and indeterminism  Laws, symmetries, regularities  Scientific inference  Ergodicity  Occam's Razor  Space and time  Formal metaphysics
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2019
DOI 10.1007/s11229-019-02231-8
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 64,209
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 62 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Aggregating Causal Judgments.Richard Bradley, Franz Dietrich & Christian List - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (4):491-515.
Blocking an Argument for Emergent Chance.David Kinney - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 50 (5):1057-1077.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Determinism, Indeterminism and Mathematics.Andrezej Lasota - 1997 - Foundations of Science 2 (1):73-75.
Are Deterministic Descriptions and Indeterministic Descriptions Observationally Equivalent?Charlotte Werndl - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 40 (3):232-242.
Regularity in Nonlinear Dynamical Systems.D. Lynn Holt & R. Glynn Holt - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (4):711-727.
Dynamic Topological Logic of Metric Spaces.David Fernández-Duque - 2012 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 77 (1):308-328.
The Role of Agency in Distributed Cognitive Systems.Ronald N. Giere - 2006 - Philosophy of Science 73 (5):710-719.
Doubly Stochastic Matrices in Quantum Mechanics.James D. Louck - 1997 - Foundations of Physics 27 (8):1085-1104.
Fluctuations in the Dynamics of Single Quantum Systems.Anton Amann & Harald Atmanspacher - 1998 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 29 (2):151-182.


Added to PP index

Total views
137 ( #78,809 of 2,455,352 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
9 ( #73,500 of 2,455,352 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes