Lange issues a novel challenge to philosophical accounts of laws of nature. He notes that the laws of nature seem to be themselves governed by laws analogous to the way that the laws govern particular facts. These higher order laws are the meta-laws of nature. He claims that if a philosophical account of laws aims to accurately characterize the laws, it should be able to account for these meta-laws. To generalize this challenge, I introduce the notion of roles played by (...) laws of nature according to a philosophical account, and identify a number of salient roles. I then apply Lange’s challenge to two views: the regularity view and the universals view. I argue that the regularity view may be able to meet the generalized version of Lange’s challenge, and that the universals view is able to meet the challenge. 1 Meta-laws2 Lange’s Challenge3 The Roles Played by Laws and Meta-laws4 Meta-laws and the Regularity View5 Meta-laws and the Universals View6 Summary and Conclusion. (shrink)
Although explanation is a central topic in the philosophy of science, there is an important issue concerning explanation that has not been discussed much, namely, why some phenomena need an explanation while some do not. In this paper we first explain why this is an important issue, and then discuss two accounts of the need for explanation that can be gathered from the literature. We argue that both accounts are inadequate. The main purpose of the paper is, however, to offer (...) a normative account of the need for explanation. On this account, a demand for explanation is possible only against the background of a certain understanding of the world. It is the map we are using that provides us with the concepts and beliefs in terms of which we can ask for an explanation. And a phenomenon needs explanation only when it does not fit the map—the phenomenon’s not fitting the map is a good reason for us to look for an explanation of it. This account not only captures our pre-theoretical understanding of the need for explanation, but also is in accordance with our practice of demanding an explanation. (shrink)
This volume of new essays, written by leading philosophers of science, explores a broadly methodological question: what role should metaphysics play in our philosophizing about science? The essays address this question both through ground-level investigations of particular issues in the metaphysics of science and by more general methodological investigations.
Timothy Williamson argues against the tactic of criticizing confidence in a theory by identifying a logical consequence of the theory whose probability is not raised by the evidence. He dubs it “the consequence fallacy”. In this paper, we will show that Williamson’s formulation of the tactic in question is ambiguous. On one reading of Williamson’s formulation, the tactic is indeed a fallacy, but it is not a commonly used tactic; on another reading, it is a commonly used tactic (or at (...) least more often used than the former tactic), but it is not a fallacy. (shrink)
This article presents and argues for modal structuralism, which is loosely derived from a position described by Wilfrid Sellars. Modal structuralism holds that a fundamental property is identified by the role it plays in the structure of possibilities. It implies necessitarianism about laws, which holds that at least some laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. The argument for these positions derives from the following assumptions: the principle of the identity of indiscernible properties and a modest antiquidditism. These assumptions are weaker (...) than those of causal structuralism, which is a closely related view. (shrink)
Newman’s objection is sometimes taken to be a fatal objection to structural realism (SR). However, ambiguity in the definition of “structure” allows for versions that do not succumb to Newman’s objection. In this paper, I consider some versions of SR that maintain an abstract notion of structure yet avoid Newman’s objection. In particular, I consider versions suggested by Melia and Saatsi. They reject a solution that restricts the domain of the second-order quantifiers, and argue in favor of buttressing the language (...) with intensional operators such as “it is physically necessary that...”. I argue that their favored solution effectively requires the former suggestion that they reject. This argument suggests that a notion of natural properties may be indispensable to SR. (shrink)