The Modal Status of Laws: In Defence of a Hybrid View

Philosophical Quarterly 65 (260):509-528 (2015)
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Abstract

Three popular views regarding the modal status of the laws of nature are discussed: Humean Supervenience, nomic necessitation, and scientific/dispositional essentialism. These views are examined especially with regard to their take on the apparent modal force of laws and their ability to explain that modal force. It will be suggested that none of the three views, at least in their strongest form, can be maintained if some laws are metaphysically necessary, but others are metaphysically contingent. Some reasons for thinking that such variation in the modal status of laws exists will be presented with reference to physics. This drives us towards a fourth, hybrid view, according to which there are both necessary and contingent laws. The prospects for such a view are studied.

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Tuomas E. Tahko
University of Bristol

Citations of this work

Non‐Humean theories of natural necessity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (5):1-1.
Laws of Nature: Necessary and Contingent.Samuel Kimpton-Nye - 2022 - Philosophical Quarterly 72 (4):875-895.
Possibility Precedes Actuality.Tuomas E. Tahko - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
Unity of Science.Tuomas E. Tahko - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
What Price Changing Laws of Nature?Olivier Sartenaer, Alexandre Guay & Paul Humphreys - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-19.

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References found in this work

Philosophical Papers.David Kellogg Lewis - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
What is a Law of Nature?D. M. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press.
The Metaphysics Within Physics.Tim Maudlin - 2007 - Oxford University Press.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - Cambridge University Press.

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