Laws, explanation, governing, and generation

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 85 (4):537 – 552 (2007)
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Abstract

Advocates and opponents of Humean Supervenience (HS) have neglected a crucial feature of nomic explanation: laws can explain by generating descriptions of possibilities. Dretske and Armstrong have opposed HS by arguing that laws construed as Humean regularities cannot explain, but their arguments fail precisely because they neglect to consider this generating role of laws. Humeans have dismissed the intuitive violations of HS manifested by John Carroll's Mirror Worlds as erroneous, but distinguishing the laws' generating role from the non-Humean notion that laws govern undermines such responses, and renews the force of Carroll's critique of HS. However, it also undermines the assumption that HS is constitutive of Humeanism. The generating role of laws readily motivates a non-reductive Humeanism that violates HS. An account is sketched, and is seen to provide a novel explanation of the governing intuition.

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Barry Ward
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

Citations of this work

The Power to Govern.Erica Shumener - forthcoming - Philosophical Perspectives.
Concepts of Law of Nature.Brendan Shea - 2011 - Dissertation, University of Illinois
Marc Lange: Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature. [REVIEW]Barry Ward - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 43 (2):155-158.

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References found in this work

Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Blackwell.
What is a Law of Nature?D. Armstrong - 1983 - Cambridge University Press.
Humean Supervenience Debugged.David Lewis - 1994 - Mind 103 (412):473--490.

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