Making best systems best for us

Synthese 197 (6):2525-2550 (2018)

Abstract

Humean reductionism about laws of nature appears to leave a central aspect of scientific practice unmotivated: If the world’s fundamental structure is exhausted by the actual distribution of non-modal properties and the laws of nature are merely efficient summaries of this distribution, then why does science posit laws that cover a wide range of non-actual circumstances? In this paper, we develop a new version of the Humean best systems account of laws based on the idea that laws need to organize information in a way that maximizes their cognitive usefulness for creature like us. We argue that this account motivates scientific practice because the laws’ applicability to non-actual circumstances falls right out of their cognitive usefulness.

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Author Profiles

Christian Loew
Umeå University
Siegfried Jaag
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

References found in this work

On the Plurality of Worlds.David Lewis - 1986 - Wiley-Blackwell.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
New Work for a Theory of Universals.David K. Lewis - 1983 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 61 (4):343-377.
What is a Law of Nature?D. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.

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Citations of this work

Non‐Humean Theories of Natural Necessity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (5):1-1.
Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (8):1-10.
Induction and the Glue of the World.Harjit Bhogal - 2021 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (2):319-333.

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