Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature

Paperback | July 30, 2009

byMarc Lange

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Laws of nature have long puzzled philosophers. What distinguishes laws from facts about the world that do not rise to the level of laws? How can laws be contingent and nevertheless necessary? In this brief, accessible study, Lange offers provocative and original answers to these questions. Heargues that laws are distinguished by their necessity, which is grounded in primitive subjunctive facts (expressed by counterfactual conditionals). While recognizing that natural necessity is distinct from logical, metaphysical, and mathematical necessity, Lange explains how natural necessityconstitutes a species of the same genus as those other varieties of necessity. Along the way, Lange discusses the relation between laws and objective chances, as well as such unjustly neglected topics as the completeness of the laws of physics and whether the laws of nature can change. Lange's elegant, engagingly written book is non-technical and suitable for undergraduatephilosophers (and undergraduate scientists interested in the logical foundations of science). It is "must reading" for metaphysicians and philosophers of science working on laws, chance, counterfactuals, modality, or the philosophy of physics.

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Laws of nature have long puzzled philosophers. What distinguishes laws from facts about the world that do not rise to the level of laws? How can laws be contingent and nevertheless necessary? In this brief, accessible study, Lange offers provocative and original answers to these questions. Heargues that laws are distinguished by their ...

Marc Lange is Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:304 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0.68 inPublished:July 30, 2009Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195328140

ISBN - 13:9780195328141

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Table of Contents

PrefaceChapter 1: Laws Form Counterfactually Stable Sets1. Welcome2. Their necessity sets the laws apart3. The laws's persistence under counterfactuals4. Nomic preservation5. Beyond nomic preservation6. A host of related problems: triviality, circularity, arbitrariness7. Sub-nomic stability8. No nonmaximal set containing accidents possesses sub-nomic stability9. How two sub-nomically stable sets must be related: multiple strata of natural laws10. Why the laws would still have been laws11. Conclusion: laws form stable setsChapter 2: Natural Necessity1. Our goal in this chapter2. The Euthyphro question3. David Lewis's "Best-System Account"4. Lewis's account and the laws's supervenience5. The Euthyphro question returns6. Are all relative necessities created equal?7. The modality principle8. A proposal for distinguishing genuine from merely relative modalities9. Borrowing a strategy from Chapter 110. Necessity as maximal invariance11. The laws form a system12. Scientific essentialism squashes the pyramid13. Why there is a natural ordering of the genuine modalities14. Conclusion: stability, as maximal invariance, involves necessityChapter 4: A World of Subjunctives1. What if the lawmakers were subjunctive facts?2. The lawmakers's regress3. Stability4. Avoiding adhocery5. Instantaneous rates of change and the causal explanation problem6. Et in Arcadia ego7. The rule of law8. Why the laws must be complete9. Envoi: Am I cheating?

Editorial Reviews

"In Laws and Lawmakers, Marc Lange takes terrific insights from his earlier work, refines them, and applies them to the core question about laws of nature: What is it to be a law? The result is an engaging, focused, topnotch inquiry full of challenging conclusions." --John W. Carroll, Philosophy, North Carolina State University