Special Science Laws

Edited by Markus Schrenk (Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf)
Assistant editor: Florian J. Boge (Bergische Universität Wuppertal)
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  1. Humeanism and the Pragmatic Turn.Michael Townsen Hicks, Siegfried Jaag & Christian Loew - forthcoming - In Humean Laws for Human Agents. Oxford University Press.
    A central question in the philosophy of science is: What is a law of nature? Different answers to this question define an important schism: Humeans, in the wake of David Hume, hold that the laws of nature are nothing over and above what actually happens and reject irreducible facts about natural modality (Lewis, 1983, 1994; cf. Miller, 2015). According to Non-Humeans, by contrast, the laws are metaphysically fundamental (Maudlin, 2007) or grounded in primitive modal structures, such as dispositional essences of (...)
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  2. Special-Science Counterfactuals.Christian List - 2022 - The Monist 105 (2):194–213.
    On the standard analysis, a counterfactual conditional such as “If P had been the case, then Q would have been the case” is true in the actual world if, in all nearest possible worlds in which its antecedent (P) is true, its consequent (Q) is also true. Despite its elegance, this analysis faces a difficulty if the laws of nature are deterministic. Then the antecedent could not have been true, given prior conditions. So, it is unclear what the relevant “nearest (...)
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  3. Tractability and Laws.Isaac Wilhelm - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-17.
    According to the Best System Account of lawhood, laws of nature are theorems of the deductive systems that best balance simplicity and strength. In this paper, I advocate a different account of lawhood which is related, in spirit, to the BSA: according to my account, laws are theorems of deductive systems that best balance simplicity, strength, and also calculational tractability. I discuss two problems that the BSA faces, and I show that my account solves them. I also use my account (...)
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  4. Laws, Models, and Theories in Biology: A Unifying Interpretation.Pablo Lorenzano - 2020 - In Lorenzo Baravalle & Luciana Zaterka (eds.), Life and Evolution, History, Philosophy and Theory of the Life Sciences. pp. 163-207.
    Three metascientific concepts that have been object of philosophical analysis are the concepts oflaw, model and theory. The aim ofthis article is to present the explication of these concepts, and of their relationships, made within the framework of Sneedean or Metatheoretical Structuralism (Balzer et al. 1987), and of their application to a case from the realm of biology: Population Dynamics. The analysis carried out will make it possible to support, contrary to what some philosophers of science in general and of (...)
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  5. General Unificatory Theories in Community Ecology.Christopher Hunter Lean - 2019 - Philosophical Topics 47 (1):125-142.
    The question of whether there are laws of nature in ecology has developed substantially in the last 20 years. Many have attempted to rehabilitate ecology’s lawlike status through establishing that ecology possesses laws that robustly appear across many different ecological systems. I argue that there is still something missing, which explains why so many have been skeptical of ecology’s lawlike status. Community ecology has struggled to establish what I call a General Unificatory Theory. The lack of a GUT causes problems (...)
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  6. How to Define Levels of Explanation and Evaluate Their Indispensability.Christopher Clarke - 2017 - Synthese 194 (6).
    Some explanations in social science, psychology and biology belong to a higher level than other explanations. And higher explanations possess the virtue of abstracting away from the details of lower explanations, many philosophers argue. As a result, these higher explanations are irreplaceable. And this suggests that there are genuine higher laws or patterns involving social, psychological and biological states. I show that this ‘abstractness argument’ is really an argument schema, not a single argument. This is because the argument uses the (...)
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  7. ¿Son a priori los modelos explicativos de la selección natural?José Díez & Pablo Lorenzano - 2017 - Metatheoria – Revista de Filosofía E Historia de la Ciencia 8:31--42.
    The epistemic status of Natural Selection has intrigued to biologists and philosophers since the very beginning of the theory to our present times. One prominent contemporary example is Elliott Sober, who claims that Natural Selection, and some other theories in biology, and maybe in economics, are peculiar in including explanatory models/conditionals that are a priori in a sense in which explanatory models/conditionals in Classical Mechanics and most other standard theories are not. In this paper, by analyzing what we take to (...)
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  8. Manipulationism, Ceteris Paribus Laws, and the Bugbear of Background Knowledge.Robert Kowalenko - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (3):261-283.
    According to manipulationist accounts of causal explanation, to explain an event is to show how it could be changed by intervening on its cause. The relevant change must be a ‘serious possibility’ claims Woodward 2003, distinct from mere logical or physical possibility—approximating something I call ‘scientific possibility’. This idea creates significant difficulties: background knowledge is necessary for judgments of possibility. Yet the primary vehicles of explanation in manipulationism are ‘invariant’ generalisations, and these are not well adapted to encoding such knowledge, (...)
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  9. Ceteris Paribus Laws: A Naturalistic Account.Robert Kowalenko - 2014 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 28 (2):133-155.
    An otherwise lawlike generalisation hedged by a ceteris paribus (CP) clause qualifies as a law of nature, if the CP clause can be substituted with a set of conditions derived from the multivariate regression model used to interpret the empirical data in support of the gen- eralisation. Three studies in human biology that use regression analysis are surveyed, showing that standard objections to cashing out CP clauses in this way—based on alleged vagueness, vacuity, or lack of testability—do not apply. CP (...)
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  10. Better Best Systems and the Issue of CP-Laws.Markus Schrenk - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1787-1799.
    This paper combines two ideas: (1) That the Lewisian best system analysis of lawhood (BSA) can cope with laws that have exceptions (cf. Braddon-Mitchell in Noûs 35(2):260–277, 2001; Schrenk in The metaphysics of ceteris paribus laws. Ontos, Frankfurt, 2007). (2) That a BSA can be executed not only on the mosaic of perfectly natural properties but also on any set of special science properties (cf., inter alia, Schrenk 2007, Selected papers contributed to the sections of GAP.6, 6th international congress of (...)
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  11. Mechanisms and Laws: Clarifying the Debate.Marie I. Kaiser & C. F. Craver - 2013 - In H.-K. Chao, S.-T. Chen & R. Millstein (eds.), Mechanism and Causality in Biology and Economics. Dordrecht: Springer. pp. 125-145.
    Leuridan (2011) questions whether mechanisms can really replace laws at the heart of our thinking about science. In doing so, he enters a long-standing discussion about the relationship between the mech-anistic structures evident in the theories of contemporary biology and the laws of nature privileged especially in traditional empiricist traditions of the philosophy of science (see e.g. Wimsatt 1974; Bechtel and Abrahamsen 2005; Bogen 2005; Darden 2006; Glennan 1996; MDC 2000; Schaffner 1993; Tabery 2003; Weber 2005). In our view, Leuridan (...)
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  12. Must Structural Realism Cover the Special Sciences?Holger Lyre - 2013 - In Vassilios Karakostas & Dennis Dieks (eds.), Epsa11 Perspectives and Foundational Problems in Philosophy of Science. Springer. pp. 383--390.
    Structural Realism (SR) is typically rated as a moderate realist doctrine about the ultimate entities of nature described by fundamental physics. Whether it must be extended to the higher-level special sciences is not so clear. In this short paper I argue that there is no need to ‘structuralize’ the special sciences. By mounting concrete examples I show that structural descriptions and structural laws certainly play a role in the special sciences, but that they don’t play any exclusive role nor that (...)
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  13. Ontic Structural Realism and Modality.Nora Berenstain & James Ladyman - 2012 - In Elaine Landry & Dean Rickles (eds.), Structural Realism: Structure, Object, and Causality. Springer.
    There is good reason to believe that scientific realism requires a commitment to the objective modal structure of the physical world. Causality, equilibrium, laws of nature, and probability all feature prominently in scientific theory and explanation, and each one is a modal notion. If we are committed to the content of our best scientific theories, we must accept the modal nature of the physical world. But what does the scientific realist’s commitment to physical modality require? We consider whether scientific realism (...)
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  14. Mathematical Biology and the Existence of Biological Laws.Mauro Dorato - 2012 - In D. Dieks, S. Hartmann, T. Uebel & M. Weber (eds.), Probabilities, Laws and Structure. Springer.
    An influential position in the philosophy of biology claims that there are no biological laws, since any apparently biological generalization is either too accidental, fact-like or contingent to be named a law, or is simply reducible to physical laws that regulate electrical and chemical interactions taking place between merely physical systems. In the following I will stress a neglected aspect of the debate that emerges directly from the growing importance of mathematical models of biological phenomena. My main aim is to (...)
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  15. The Biological Principle of Natural Sciences and the Logos of Life of Natural Philosophy: A Comparison and the Perspectives of Unifying the Science and Philosophy of Life.Attila Grandpierre - 2011 - Analecta Husserliana 110:711-727.
    Acknowledging that Nature is one unified whole, we expect that physics and biology are intimately related. Keeping in mind that physics became an exact science with which we are already familiar with, while, apparently, we do not have at present a similar knowledge about biology, we consider how can we make useful the clarity of physics to shed light to biology. The next question will be what are the most basic categories of physics and biology. If we do not want (...)
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  16. The Epistemology of Hedged Laws.Robert Kowalenko - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (3):445-452.
    Standard objections to the notion of a hedged, or ceteris paribus, law of nature usually boil down to the claim that such laws would be either 1) irredeemably vague, 2) untestable, 3) vacuous, 4) false, or a combination thereof. Using epidemiological studies in nutrition science as an example, I show that this is not true of the hedged law-like generalizations derived from data models used to interpret large and varied sets of empirical observations. Although it may be ‘in principle impossible’ (...)
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  17. Physical Methodology for Economic Systems Modeling.I. G. Tuluzov & S. I. Melnyk - 2010 - Electronic Journal of Theoretical Physics (EJTP) 7 (24):57-78.
    The paper discusses the possibility of constructing economic models using the methodology of model construction in classical mechanics. At the same time, unlike the "econophysical" approach, the properties of economic models are derived without involvement of any equivalent physical properties, but with account of the types of symmetry existing in the economic system. It has been shown that at this approach practically all known mechanical variables have their "economic twins". The variational principle is formulated on the basis of formal mathematical (...)
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  18. Angela N. H. Creager, Elizabeth Lunbeck and M. Norton Wise , Science Without Laws: Model Systems, Cases, Exemplary Narratives. Durham, NC and London: Duke University Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-8223-4068-3. £12.99. [REVIEW]Jacob Stegenga - 2009 - British Journal for the History of Science 42 (4):626.
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  19. Salario.Sergio Volodia Marcello Cremaschi - 2006 - In Virgilio Melchiorre (ed.), Enciclopedia filosofica. Milano, Italy: Bompiani. pp. 10028.
    A reconstruction of the nineteenth-century debate on wages in relation to the issue of the absolute character of economics laws, to the issued of the ethical element in economics and their policy implications.
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  20. A Theory for Special Science Laws.Markus Schrenk - 2006 - In H. Bohse & S. Walter (eds.), Selected Papers Contributed to the Sections of Gap.6. Mentis.
    This paper explores whether it is possible to reformulate or re-interpret Lewis’s theory of fundamental laws of nature—his “best system analysis”—in such a way that it becomes a useful theory for special science laws. One major step in this enterprise is to make plausible how law candidates within best system competitions can tolerate exceptions—this is crucial because we expect special science laws to be so called “ceteris paribus laws ”. I attempt to show how this is possible and also how (...)
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  21. How the Ceteris Paribus Laws of Physics Lie.Geert Keil - 2005 - In Jan Faye, Paul Needham, Uwe Scheffler & Max Urchs (eds.), Nature's Principles. Springer. pp. 167-200.
    After a brief survey of the literature on ceteris paribus clauses and ceteris paribus laws (1), the problem of exceptions, which creates the need for cp laws, is discussed (2). It emerges that the so-called skeptical view of laws of nature does not apply to laws of any kind whatever. Only some laws of physics are plagued with exceptions, not THE laws (3). Cp clauses promise a remedy, which has to be located among the further reactions to the skeptical view (...)
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  22. Ejemplares, modelos y principios en la genética clásica.Pablo Lorenzano - 2005 - Scientiae Studia 3 (2):185-203.
    Taking as starting point Kuhn’s analysis of science textbooks and its application to Sinnott and Dunn’s (1925), it will be discussed the problem of the existence of laws in biology. In particular, it will be showed, in accordance with the proposals of Darden (1991) and Schaffner (1980, 1986, 1993), the relevance of the exemplars, diagrammatically or graphically represented, in the way in which is carried out the teaching and learning process of classical genetics, inasmuch as the information contained in them, (...)
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  23. The Promise of Roberts' “Measurability Account of la Ws”.James Norris - 2004 - Southwest Philosophy Review 20 (2):117-128.
    There is a common argument form in the metaphysics of natural laws literature: a theory of natural law is attacked by offering a claim L as a law of scientific field F (physics, chemistry, biology, etc.), and from this law metaphysical implications contrary to the theory are drawn. Quite often however, L would not be regarded as a law by a scientist of F. Roberts' "measurability account of laws" offers a new and interesting way to more reliably identify the laws (...)
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  24. The Fundamental Principles of Existence and the Origin of Physical Laws.Attila Grandpierre - 2002 - Ultimate Reality and Meaning 25 (2):127-147.
    Our concept of the universe and the material world is foundational for our thinking and our moral lives. In an earlier contribution to the URAM project I presented what I called 'the ultimate organizational principle' of the universe. In that article (Grandpierre 2000, pp. 12-35) I took as an adversary the wide-spread system of thinking which I called 'materialism'. According to those who espouse this way of thinking, the universe consists of inanimate units or sets of material such as atoms (...)
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  25. Naturgesetze in der Biologie?Bertold Schweitzer - 2000 - Philosophia Naturalis 37 (2):367-374.
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