Laws as Relations between Universals

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Daian Bica (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
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  1. How to Ground Powers.David Builes - forthcoming - Analysis.
    According to the grounding theory of powers, fundamental physical properties should be thought of as qualities that ground dispositions. Although this view has recently been defended by many different philosophers, there is no consensus for how the view should be developed within a broader metaphysics of properties. Recently, Tugby has argued that the view should be developed in the context of a Platonic theory of properties, where properties are abstract universals. I will argue that the view should not be developed (...)
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  2. Constraint Accounts of Laws.Meacham Christopher J. G. - forthcoming - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
    In recent work, Adlam (2022b), Chen & Goldstein (2022), and Meacham (2023) have defended accounts of laws that take laws to be primitive global constraints. A major advantage of these accounts is that they’re able to accommodate the many different kinds of laws that appear in physical theories. In this paper I’ll present these three accounts, highlight their distinguishing features, and note some key differences that might lead one to favor one of these accounts over the others. I’ll conclude by (...)
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  3. Against relationalism about modality.Carlos Romero - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (8):2245-2274.
    On a highly influential way to think of modality, that I call ‘relationalism’, the modality of a state is explained by its being composed of properties, and these properties being related by a higher-order and primitively modal relation. Examples of relationalism are the Dretske-Tooley-Armstrong account of natural necessity, many dispositional essentialist views, and Wang’s incompatibility primitivism. I argue that relationalism faces four difficulties: that the selection between modal relations is arbitrary, that the modal relation cannot belong to any logical order, (...)
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  4. Unmanifested powers and universals.Ashley Coates - 2022 - Synthese 200 (2):1-22.
    According to a well-known argument against dispositional essentialism, the nature of unmanifested token powers leaves dispositional essentialists with an objectionable commitment to the reality of non-existent entities. The idea is that, because unmanifested token powers are directed at their non-existent token manifestations, they require the reality of those manifestations. Arguably the most promising response to this argument works by claiming that, if properties are universals, dispositional directedness need only entail the reality of actually existing manifestation types. I argue that this (...)
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  5. An Armstrongian defense of dispositional monist accounts of laws of nature.Mousa Mohammadian - 2022 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 12 (3):1-15.
    Bird reveals an important problem at the heart of Armstrong’s theory of laws of nature: to explain how a law necessitates its corresponding regularity, Armstrong is committed to a vicious regress. In his very brief response, Armstrong gestures towards an argument that, as he admits, is more of a “speculation.” Later, Barker and Smart argue that a very similar problem threatens Bird’s dispositional monist theory of laws of nature and he is committed to a similar vicious regress. In this paper, (...)
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  6. The strong arm of the law: a unified account of necessary and contingent laws of nature.Salim Hirèche, Niels Linnemann, Robert Michels & Lisa Vogt - 2021 - Synthese 199 (3-4):10211-10252.
    A common feature of all standard theories of the laws of nature is that they are "absolutist": They take laws to be either all metaphysically necessary or all contingent. Science, however, gives us reason to think that there are laws of both kinds, suggesting that standard theories should make way for "non-absolutist" alternatives: theories which accommodate laws of both modal statuses. In this paper, we set out three explanatory challenges for any candidate non-absolutist theory and discuss the prospects of the (...)
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  7. D.M. Armstrong: Sydney's most distinguished philosopher: life and work.James Franklin - 2020 - Sydney Realist 41:1-6.
    David Armstrong (1926-2014) was much the most internationally successful philosopher to come from Sydney. His life moved from a privileged Empire childhood and student of John Anderson to acclaimed elder statesman of realist philosophy. His philosophy developed from an Andersonian realist inheritance to major contributions on materialist theory of mind and the theory of universals. His views on several other topics such as religion and ethics are surveyed briefly.
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  8. Platonic Laws of Nature.Tyler Hildebrand - 2020 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 50 (3):365-381.
    David Armstrong accepted the following three theses: universals are immanent, laws are relations between universals, and laws govern. Taken together, they form an attractive position, for they promise to explain regularities in nature—one of the most important desiderata for a theory of laws and properties—while remaining compatible with naturalism. However, I argue that the three theses are incompatible. The basic idea is that each thesis makes an explanatory claim, but the three claims can be shown to run in a problematic (...)
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  9. Laws of Nature and Explanatory Circularity.Eduardo Castro - 2019 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 33 (2):27-38..
    Some recent literature [Hicks, M. T. and van Elswyk. P., (2015) pp. 433-443, 2015; Bhogal, H. (2017), pp. 447-460] has argued that the non-Humean conceptions of laws of nature have a same weakness as the Humean conceptions of laws of nature. That is, both conceptions face an explanatory circularity problem. The argument is as follows: the Humean and the non-Humean conceptions of laws of nature agree that the law statements are universal generalisations; thus, both conceptions are vulnerable to an explanatory (...)
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  10. Armstrong on Probabilistic Laws of Nature.Jonathan D. Jacobs & Robert J. Hartman - 2017 - Philosophical Papers 46 (3):373-387.
    D. M. Armstrong famously claims that deterministic laws of nature are contingent relations between universals and that his account can also be straightforwardly extended to irreducibly probabilistic laws of nature. For the most part, philosophers have neglected to scrutinize Armstrong’s account of probabilistic laws. This is surprising precisely because his own claims about probabilistic laws make it unclear just what he takes them to be. We offer three interpretations of what Armstrong-style probabilistic laws are, and argue that all three interpretations (...)
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  11. Different Views of Laws of Nature.Ömer Fatih Tekin - 2017 - Beytulhikme An International Journal of Philosophy 7 (1):43-63.
    There are roughly two main understanding in philosophy of science: Epistemology of Science and Metaphysics of Science. It is examined that some concept such as Laws of Nature, Causation, Time and Space into the metaphysics of Science. In this paper, it has been studied laws of nature which is one the most important subjects in metaphysics of science. Let’s think outside the box, there are three significant views about laws of nature; Regularity Theory, Necessitation Theory and Dispositional Essential views. It (...)
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  12. Magnitudes: Metaphysics, Explanation, and Perception.Christopher Peacocke - 2015 - In Annalisa Coliva, Volker Munz & Danièle Moyal-Sharrock (eds.), Mind, Language and Action: Proceedings of the 36th International Wittgenstein Symposium. De Gruyter. pp. 357-388.
    I am going to argue for a robust realism about magnitudes, as irreducible elements in our ontology. This realistic attitude, I will argue, gives a better metaphysics than the alternatives. It suggests some new options in the philosophy of science. It also provides the materials for a better account of the mind’s relation to the world, in particular its perceptual relations.
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  13. Half-Hearted Humeanism.Aaron Segal - 2015 - Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 9:262-305.
    Many contemporary philosophers endorse the Humean-Lewisian Denial of Absolutely Necessary Connections (‘DANC’). Among those philosophers, many deny all or part of the Humean-Lewisian package of views about causation and laws. I argue that they maintain an inconsistent set of views. DANC entails that (1) causal properties and relations are, with a few possible exceptions, always extrinsic to their bearers, (2) nomic properties and relations are, with a few possible exceptions, always extrinsic to their bearers, and (3) causal and nomic properties (...)
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  14. Laws of Nature and Tooley's Cases / As leis da natureza e os casos de Tooley.Rodrigo Cid - 2013 - Manuscrito 36 (1):67-101.
    The purposes of this paper are: (1) to present four theories of the nature of natural laws, (2) to show that only one of them is capable of adequately answering to Tooley's Cases, and (3) indicate why these cases are relevant for our ontology. These purposes are important since the concept of "natural law" is used in many (if not all) realms of natural science and in many branches of philosophy; if Tooley's cases are possible, they represent situations that must (...)
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  15. The laws of nature and Tooley's cases / As leis da natureza e os casos de Tooley.Rodrigo Cid - 2013 - Manuscrito: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 36:67-101.
    The purposes of this paper are: (1) to present four theories of the nature of natural laws, (2) to show that only one of them is capable of adequately answering to Tooley’s Cases, and (3) indicate why these cases are relevant for our ontology. These purposes are important since the concept of “natural law” is used in many (if not all) realms of natural science and in many branches of philosophy; if Tooley’s cases are possible, they represent situations that must (...)
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  16. Tooley’s account of the necessary connection between law and regularity.Tyler Hildebrand - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 166 (1):33-43.
    Fred Dretske, Michael Tooley, and David Armstrong accept a theory of governing laws of nature according to which laws are atomic states of affairs that necessitate corresponding natural regularities. Some philosophers object to the Dretske/Tooley/Armstrong theory on the grounds that there is no illuminating account of the necessary connection between governing law and natural regularity. In response, Michael Tooley has provided a reductive account of this necessary connection in his book Causation (1987). In this essay, I discuss an improved version (...)
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  17. Interfering with nomological necessity.Markus Schrenk - 2011 - Philosophical Quarterly 61 (244):577-597.
    Since causal processes can be prevented and interfered with, law-governed causation is a challenge for necessitarian theories of laws of nature. To show that there is a problematic friction between necessity and interference, I focus on David Armstrong's theory; with one proviso, his lawmaker, nomological necessity, is supposed to be instantiated as the causation of the law's second relatum whenever its first relatum is instantiated. His proviso is supposed to handle interference cases, but fails to do so. In order to (...)
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  18. Necessary Laws.Max Kistler - 2005 - In Jan Faye, Paul Needham, Uwe Scheffler & Max Urchs (eds.), Nature’s Principles. Springer. pp. 201-227.
    In the first part of this paper, I argue against the view that laws of nature are contingent, by attacking a necessary condition for its truth within the framework of a conception of laws as relations between universals. I try to show that there is no independent reason to think that universals have an essence independent of their nomological properties. However, such a non-qualitative essence is required to make sense of the idea that different laws link the same universals in (...)
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  19. The Bookkeeper and the Lumberjack. Metaphysical vs. Nomological Necessity.Markus Schrenk - 2005 - In G. Abel (ed.), Kreativität. XX. Deutscher Kongress für Philosophie. Sektionsbeiträge Band 1. Universitätsverlag der Technischen Universität.
    The striking difference between the orthodox nomological necessitation view of laws and the claims made recently by Scientific Essentialism is that on the latter interpretation laws are metaphysically necessary while they are contingent on the basis of the former. This shift is usually perceived as an upgrading: essentialism makes the laws as robust as possible. The aim of my paper—in which I contrast Brian Ellis’s Scientific Essentialism and David Armstrong’s theory of nomological necessity—is threefold. (1) I first underline the familiar (...)
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  20. Natural Laws, Universals, and the Induction Problem.Edward Slowik - 2005 - Philosophia 32 (1-4):241-251.
    This paper contends that some of the recent critical appraisals of universals theories of natural laws, namely, van Fraassen's analysis of Armstrong's probabilistic laws, are largely ineffective since they fail to disclose the incompatibility of universals and any realistic natural law setting. Rather, a more profitable line of criticism is developed that contests the universalists' claim to have resolved the induction problem (i.e., the separation of natural laws from mere accidental regularities), and thereby reveals the universals' philosophically inadequate concept of (...)
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  21. What is a Law of Nature? The Broken‐Symmetry Story.Yuri Balashov - 2002 - Southern Journal of Philosophy 40 (4):459-473.
    I argue that the contemporary interplay of cosmology and particle physics in their joint effort to understand the processes at work during the first moments of the big bang has important implications for understanding the nature of lawhood. I focus on the phenomenon of spontaneous symmetry breaking responsible for generating the masses of certain particles. This phenomenon presents problems for the currently fashionable Dretske-Tooley-Armstrong theory and strongly favors a rival nomic ontology of causal powers.
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