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No Work For a Theory of Universals

In Jonathan Schaffer & Barry Loewer (eds.), A Companion to David Lewis. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 116-137 (2015)

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  1. Nomic Vagueness.Eddy Keming Chen - manuscript
    If there are fundamental laws of nature, can they fail to be exact? In this paper, I consider the possibility that some fundamental laws are vague. I call this phenomenon nomic vagueness. I propose to characterize nomic vagueness as the existence of borderline lawful worlds. The existence of nomic vagueness raises interesting questions about the mathematical expressibility and metaphysical status of fundamental laws. For a case study, we turn to the Past Hypothesis, a postulate that (partially) explains the direction of (...)
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  • Naturalistic Moral Realism, Moral Rationalism, and Non-Fundamental Epistemology.Tristram McPherson - forthcoming - In Karen Jones & Francois Schroeter (eds.), The Many Moral Rationalisms. Oxford University Press.
    This paper takes up an important epistemological challenge to the naturalistic moral realist: that her metaphysical commitments are difficult to square with a plausible rationalist view about the epistemology of morality.The paper begins by clarifying and generalizing this challenge. It then illustrates how the generalized challenge can be answered by a form of naturalistic moral realism that I dub joint-carving moral realism. Both my framing of this challenge and my answer advertise the methodological significance of non-fundamental epistemological theorizing, which defends (...)
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  • Logically Simple Properties and Relations.Jan Plate - 2016 - Philosophers' Imprint 16:1-40.
    This paper presents an account of what it is for a property or relation (or ‘attribute’ for short) to be logically simple. Based on this account, it is shown, among other things, that the logically simple attributes are in at least one important way sparse. This in turn lends support to the view that the concept of a logically simple attribute can be regarded as a promising substitute for Lewis’s concept of a perfectly natural attribute. At least in part, the (...)
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  • Simplicity, Language-Dependency and the Best System Account of Laws.Billy Wheeler - 2014 - Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science 31 (2):189-206.
    It is often said that the best system account of laws needs supplementing with a theory of perfectly natural properties. The ‘strength’ and ‘simplicity’ of a system is language-relative and without a fixed vocabulary it is impossible to compare rival systems. Recently a number of philosophers have attempted to reformulate the BSA in an effort to avoid commitment to natural properties. I assess these proposals and argue that they are problematic as they stand. Nonetheless, I agree with their aim, and (...)
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  • Contemporary Approaches to Statistical Mechanical Probabilities: A Critical Commentary - Part II: The Regularity Approach.Christopher J. G. Meacham - 2010 - Philosophy Compass 5 (12):1127-1136.
    This pair of articles provides a critical commentary on contemporary approaches to statistical mechanical probabilities. These articles focus on the two ways of understanding these probabilities that have received the most attention in the recent literature: the epistemic indifference approach, and the Lewis-style regularity approach. These articles describe these approaches, highlight the main points of contention, and make some attempts to advance the discussion. The second of these articles discusses the regularity approach to statistical mechanical probabilities, and describes some areas (...)
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  • Causal Powers.Jonathan D. Jacobs (ed.) - 2017 - Oxford University Press.
    We use concepts of causal powers and their relatives-dispositions, capacities, and abilities-to describe the world around us, both in everyday life and in scientific practice. This volume presents new work on the nature of causal powers, and their connections with other phenomena within metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind.
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  • Naturalness Constraints on Best Systems Accounts of Laws.Tyler Hildebrand - 2019 - Ratio 32 (3):163-172.
    According to best systems accounts, laws of nature are generalizations in the best systematization of particular matters of fact. Metrics such as simplicity and strength determine which systematization is best, but these are notoriously language relative. For this reason, David Lewis proposed a constraint on languages of inquiry: all predicates must be natural. This constraint is sometimes interpreted as requiring us to know which natural properties are instantiated in our world prior to scientific theorizing. I argue that this interpretation is (...)
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  • Challenging Lewis’s Challenge to the Best System Account of Lawhood.Rafal Urbaniak & Bert Leuridan - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1649-1666.
    David Lewis has formulated a well-known challenge to his Best System account of lawhood: the content of any system whatever can be formulated very simply if one allows for perverse choices of primitive vocabulary. We show that the challenge is not that dangerous, and that to account for it one need not invoke natural properties or relativized versions of the Best System account. This way, we help to move towards an even better Best System account. We discuss extensions of our (...)
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  • Eternal Worlds and the Best System Account of Laws.Ryan A. Olsen & Christopher Meacham - forthcoming - In Valia Allori (ed.), Statistical Mechanics and Scientific Explanation: Determinism, Indeterminism and Laws of Nature. World Scientific.
    In this paper we apply the popular Best System Account of laws to typical eternal worlds – both classical eternal worlds and eternal worlds of the kind posited by popular contemporary cosmological theories. We show that, according to the Best System Account, such worlds will have no laws that meaningfully constrain boundary conditions. It’s generally thought that lawful constraints on boundary conditions are required to avoid skeptical arguments. Thus the lack of such laws given the Best System Account may seem (...)
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  • Fundamental Properties and the Laws of Nature.Heather Demarest - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (5):334-344.
    Fundamental properties and the laws of nature go hand in hand: mass and gravitation, charge and electromagnetism, spin and quantum mechanics. So, it is unsurprising that one's account of fundamental properties affects one's view of the laws of nature and vice versa. In this essay, I will survey a variety of recent attempts to provide a joint account of the fundamental properties and the laws of nature. Many of these accounts are new and unexplored. Some of them posit surprising entities, (...)
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  • Simplicity, Language-Dependency and the Best System Account of Laws.Billy Wheeler - 2016 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 31 (2):189-206.
    It is often said that the best system account of laws needs supplementing with a theory of perfectly natural properties. The ‘strength’ and ‘simplicity’ of a system is language-relative and without a fixed vocabulary it is impossible to compare rival systems. Recently a number of philosophers have attempted to reformulate the BSA in an effort to avoid commitment to natural properties. I assess these proposals and argue that they are problematic as they stand. Nonetheless, I agree with their aim, and (...)
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  • Against Fundamentality‐Based Metaphysics.Martin A. Lipman - 2018 - Noûs 52 (3):587-610.
    Metaphysical views typically draw some distinction between reality and appearance, endorsing realism about some subject matters and antirealism about others. There are different conceptions of how best to construe antirealist theories. A simple view has it that we are antirealists about a subject matter when we believe that this subject matter fails to obtain. This paper discusses an alternative view, which I will call the fundamentality-based conception of antirealism. We are antirealists in this sense when we think that the relevant (...)
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