Laws and Symmetry

Oxford University Press (1989)
Authors
Bas C. Van Fraassen
San Francisco State University
Abstract
Metaphysicians speak of laws of nature in terms of necessity and universality; scientists, in terms of symmetry and invariance. In this book van Fraassen argues that no metaphysical account of laws can succeed. He analyzes and rejects the arguments that there are laws of nature, or that we must believe there are, and argues that we should disregard the idea of law as an adequate clue to science. After exploring what this means for general epistemology, the author develops the empiricist view of science as a construction of models to represent the phenomena.
Keywords Philosophy of nature  Necessity (Philosophy  Symmetry  Philosophy and science
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Call number BD581.V27 1989
ISBN(s) 0198248601   0198248113     9780198248606
DOI 10.2307/2185907
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Chapters BETA
Introduction

The historical role of the concept of a law of nature in medieval and early modern physics engendered a view of science as continuous with metaphysics, which has tended to dominate philosophy of nature and of science. Meanwhile, with the development of mathematical methods, the advanced sc... see more

Ideal Science: David Lewis's Account of Laws 1

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Inference to the Best Explanation: Salvation by Laws?

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Towards a New Epistemology

The underground river of probabilism, slowly growing in force over three centuries, burst forth above ground in the twentieth century and brought new hope for epistemology. Probabilism sees its historical origin in the work of Blaise Pascal in the seventeenth century, but has for the main ... see more

What if There Are No Laws? a Manifesto

An initial introduction to the semantic approach to science, this chapter provides a view of scientific theories in terms of classes of models and their relation to the phenomena. The main tasks of philosophy of science can be carried out within the framework of this approach without drawi... see more

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Citations of this work BETA

Epistemic Permissiveness.Roger White - 2005 - Philosophical Perspectives 19 (1):445–459.
What is the Significance of the Intuition That Laws of Nature Govern?1.Susan Schneider - 2007 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (2):307-324.
Two Accounts of Laws and Time.Barry Loewer - 2012 - Philosophical Studies 160 (1):115-137.
How Explanation Guides Confirmation.Nevin Climenhaga - 2017 - Philosophy of Science 84 (2):359-68.
Quiddistic Knowledge.Jonathan Schaffer - 2005 - Philosophical Studies 123 (1-2):1-32.

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