Armstrong and van Fraassen on Probabilistic Laws of Nature

Canadian Journal of Philosophy 42 (1):1-13 (2012)
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Abstract

In What is a Law of Nature? (1983) David Armstrong promotes a theory of laws according to which laws of nature are contingent relations of necessitation between universals. The metaphysics Armstrong develops uses deterministic causal laws as paradigmatic cases of laws, but he thinks his metaphysics explicates other sorts of laws too, including probabilistic laws, like that of the half-life of radium being 1602 years. Bas van Fraassen (1987) gives seven arguments for why Armstrong’s theory of laws is incapable of explicating probabilistic laws. The main thrust of the arguments is that Armstrong’s metaphysical apparatus serves to drive up the initial probability values stated by probabilistic laws. Armstrong replies ..

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Duncan Charles Maclean
McMaster University (PhD)

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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.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Humean Supervenience Debugged.David Lewis - 1994 - Mind 103 (412):473--490.
Laws and Symmetry.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 1989 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 182 (3):327-329.

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