Laws of nature, natural history, and the description of the world


Abstract
The modern sciences are divided into two groups: law-formulating and natural historical sciences. Sciences of both groups aim at describing the world, but they do so differently. Whereas the natural historical sciences produce “transcriptions” intended to be literally true of actual occurrences, laws of nature are expressive symbols of aspects of the world. The relationship between laws and the world thus resembles that between the symbols of classical iconography and the objects for which they stand. The natural historical approach was founded by Aristotle and is retained in such present-day sciences as botany. Modern physics differentiated itself from the natural historical sciences and developed a symbolizing approach at the hands of Galileo and Descartes. Our knowledge of the physical domain is provided by two disciplines: the law-formulating science of physics and a natural historical science on which we depend in the everyday manipulation of our surroundings.
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DOI 10.1080/02698599708573569
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References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
The Philosophical Writings of Descartes.Rene Descartes - 1984 - Cambridge University Press.
The Structure of Science.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):275-275.

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Terra Incognita: Explanation and Reduction in Earth Science.Maarten G. Kleinhans, Chris J. J. Buskes & Henk W. de Regt - 2005 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (3):289 – 317.

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