Why do temporary invariances explain in biology and the social sciences?

The issue of whether there are laws in biology and the “special science”1 has been of interest owing to the debate about whether scientific explanation requires laws. A well-warn argument goes thus: no laws in social science, no explanations, or at least no scientific explanations, at most explanation-sketches. The conclusion is not just a matter of labeling. If explanations are not scientific they are not epistemically or practically reliable. There are at least three well-known diagnoses of where this argument goes wrong. First, the argument that there are no laws in social science adopts an account of laws that is too stringent, one that not even the physical sciences satisfy (Cartwright 1983, Mitchell 2000). On a less stringent definition, there are plenty of laws in social science (and biology). These laws are, sensu Fodor, “non-strict,” as opposed to the “strict laws” (if any—vide Cartwright 1983) of physics. Second, scientific explanation does not require laws, and when laws do explain, they do so because they satisfy some other requirement on scientific explanation, for example unification, or the identification of causal difference-makers (Friedman 1974, Kitcher 1989, Salmon 1984, Strevens 2009). A third view, increasingly attractive among philosophers of social science and biology is due to James Woodward (2000, 2003). This view, like the second one eschews laws and identifies causes as difference makers. On this view explanations do require regularities, but these regularities need only satisfy a requirement of “invariance” under certain specified circumstances, in order to be explanatory, and..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 25,683
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Defending Laws in the Social Sciences.Harold Kincaid - 1990 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 20 (1):56?83.
How is Biological Explanation Possible?Alex Rosenberg - 2001 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 52 (4):735-760.
Natural Laws in Scientific Practice.Marc Lange - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
Mechanisms, Laws, and Regularities.Holly Andersen - 2011 - Philosophy of Science 78 (2):325-331.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

177 ( #23,973 of 2,143,899 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #387,257 of 2,143,899 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums