Authors
Erica Shumener
University of Pittsburgh
Abstract
Humeans and anti-Humeans agree that laws of nature should explain scientifically particular matters of fact. One objection to Humean accounts of laws contends that Humean laws cannot explain particular matters of fact because their explanations are harmfully circular. This article distinguishes between metaphysical and semantic characterizations of the circularity and argues for a new semantic version of the circularity objection. The new formulation suggests that Humean explanations are harmfully circular because the content of the sentences being explained is part of the content of the sentences doing the explaining. I describe the nature of partial content and demonstrate how this account of partial content renders Humean explanations ineffective while sparing anti-Humean explanations from the same fate. 1Introduction2Standard Formulations of the Circularity Charge3Humean Responses4Semantic Characterizations of the Circularity Worry 4.1Hempel and Oppenheim’s semantic circularity concern4.2A new version of the semantic circularity charge4.3Partial content as a guide to circularity5Humean Responses to the Semantic Circularity Charge 5.1Smuggling in metaphysics through the back door?5.2Do anti-Humean laws fare any better?5.3The over-generalization concern6ConclusionAppendix
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Reprint years 2017, 2019
DOI 10.1093/bjps/axx020
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References found in this work BETA

Counterfactuals.David K. Lewis - 1973 - Blackwell.
Nature’s Metaphysics.Alexander Bird - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
Aboutness.Stephen Yablo - 2014 - Princeton University Press.
No Work for a Theory of Grounding.Jessica M. Wilson - 2014 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 57 (5-6):535-579.

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Citations of this work BETA

Non‐Humean Theories of Natural Necessity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (5):1-1.
Debunking Logical Ground: Distinguishing Metaphysics From Semantics.Michaela Markham McSweeney - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (2):156-170.
Platonic Laws of Nature.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):365-381.
Breaking the Explanatory Circle.Michael Townsen Hicks - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-25.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

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