Philosophy of Science 64 (4):479 (1997)

Beatty, Brandon, and Sober agree that biological generalizations, when contingent, do not qualify as laws. Their conclusion follows from a normative definition of law inherited from the Logical Empiricists. I suggest two additional approaches: paradigmatic and pragmatic. Only the pragmatic represents varying kinds and degrees of contingency and exposes the multiple relationships found among scientific generalizations. It emphasizes the function of laws in grounding expectation and promotes the evaluation of generalizations along continua of ontological and representational parameters. Stability of conditions and strength of determination in nature govern projectibility. Accuracy, ontological level, simplicity, and manageability provide additional measures of usefulness.
Keywords Laws   Biology   Philosophy of Science
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DOI 10.1086/392623
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