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A Theory for Special Science Laws

In H. Bohse & S. Walter (eds.), Selected Papers Contributed to the Sections of Gap.6. Mentis (2006)

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  1. Humeanism About Laws of Nature.Harjit Bhogal - forthcoming - Philosophy Compass.
    Humeanism about laws of nature is, roughly, the view that the laws of nature are just patterns, or ways of describing patterns, in the mosaic of events. In this paper I survey some of the (many!) objections that have been raised to Humeanism, considering how the Humean might respond. And I consider how we might make a positive case for Humeanism. The common thread running through all this is that the viability of the Humean view relies on the Humean having (...)
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  • The Best Humean System for Statistical Mechanics.Roman Frigg & Carl Hoefer - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (S3):551-574.
    Classical statistical mechanics posits probabilities for various events to occur, and these probabilities seem to be objective chances. This does not seem to sit well with the fact that the theory’s time evolution is deterministic. We argue that the tension between the two is only apparent. We present a theory of Humean objective chance and show that chances thus understood are compatible with underlying determinism and provide an interpretation of the probabilities we find in Boltzmannian statistical mechanics.
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  • Laws of Nature, Explanation, and Semantic Circularity.Erica Shumener - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):787-815.
    Humeans and anti-Humeans agree that laws of nature should explain scientifically particular matters of fact. One objection to Humean accounts of laws contends that Humean laws cannot explain particular matters of fact because their explanations are harmfully circular. This article distinguishes between metaphysical and semantic characterizations of the circularity and argues for a new semantic version of the circularity objection. The new formulation suggests that Humean explanations are harmfully circular because the content of the sentences being explained is part of (...)
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  • Statistical Mechanical Imperialism.Brad Weslake - 2014 - In Alastair Wilson (ed.), Chance and Temporal Asymmetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 241-257.
    I argue against the claim, advanced by David Albert and Barry Loewer, that all non-fundamental laws can be derived from those required to underwrite the second law of thermodynamics.
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  • Humeanism, Best System Laws, and Emergence.Olivier Sartenaer - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (4):719-738.
    In the current article and contrary to a widespread assumption, I argue that Humeanism and ontological emergence can peacefully coexist. Such a coexistence can be established by reviving elements of John Stuart Mill’s philosophy of science, in which an idiosyncratic account of diachronic emergence is associated with extensions of the Humean mosaic and the correlative coming into being of new best system laws, which have the peculiarity of being temporally indexed. Incidentally, this reconciliation of Humeanism and emergence allows for conceiving (...)
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  • Psa 2018.Philsci-Archive -Preprint Volume- - unknown
    These preprints were automatically compiled into a PDF from the collection of papers deposited in PhilSci-Archive in conjunction with the PSA 2018.
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  • A Better Best System Account of Lawhood.Jonathan Cohen & Craig Callender - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 145 (1):1 - 34.
    Perhaps the most significant contemporary theory of lawhood is the Best System (/MRL) view on which laws are true generalizations that best systematize knowledge. Our question in this paper will be how best to formulate a theory of this kind. We’ll argue that an acceptable MRL should (i) avoid inter-system comparisons of simplicity, strength, and balance, (ii) make lawhood epistemically accessible, and (iii) allow for laws in the special sciences. Attention to these problems will bring into focus a useful menu (...)
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  • Special Sciences, Conspiracy and the Better Best System Account of Lawhood.Jonathan Cohen & Craig Callender - 2010 - Erkenntnis 73 (3):427 - 447.
    An important obstacle to lawhood in the special sciences is the worry that such laws would require metaphysically extravagant conspiracies among fundamental particles. How, short of conspiracy, is this possible? In this paper we'll review a number of strategies that allow for the projectibility of special science generalizations without positing outlandish conspiracies: non-Humean pluralism, classical MRL theories of laws, and Albert and Loewer's theory. After arguing that none of the above fully succeed, we consider the conspiracy problem through the lens (...)
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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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  • Better Best Systems – Too Good To Be True.Marius Backmann & Alexander Reutlinger - 2014 - Dialectica 68 (3):375-390.
    Craig Callender, Jonathan Cohen and Markus Schrenk have recently argued for an amended version of the best system account of laws – the better best system account (BBSA). This account of lawhood is supposed to account for laws in the special sciences, among other desiderata. Unlike David Lewis's original best system account of laws, the BBSA does not rely on a privileged class of natural predicates, in terms of which the best system is formulated. According to the BBSA, a contingently (...)
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  • Unsharp Best System Chances.Luke Fenton-Glynn - unknown
    Much recent philosophical attention has been devoted to variants on the Best System Analysis of laws and chance. In particular, philosophers have been interested in the prospects of such Best System Analyses for yielding *high-level* laws and chances. Nevertheless, a foundational worry about BSAs lurks: there do not appear to be uniquely appropriate measures of the degree to which a system exhibits theoretical virtues, such as simplicity and strength. Nor does there appear to be a uniquely correct exchange rate at (...)
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  • 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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  • Comparing Systems Without Single Language Privileging.Max Bialek - manuscript
    It is a standard feature of the BSA and its variants that systematizations of the world competing to be the best must be expressed in the same language. This paper argues that such single language privileging is problematic because it enhances the objection that the BSA is insufficiently objective, and it breaks the parallel between the BSA and scientific practice by not letting laws and basic kinds be identified/discovered together. A solution to these problems and the ones that prompt single (...)
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  • On Anti Humeanism and Medical Singular Causation.Stefan Dragulinescu - 2012 - Acta Analytica 27 (3):265-292.
    Abstract In this paper I offer an anti-Humean interpretation of the causal interactions in somatic medicine. I focus on life-threatening pathological states and show how Nancy Cartwright’s capacities can offer a plausible epistemology for medical processes and the singular causal claims advanced in medical diagnoses. I argue that the capacities manifested in the emergence of symptoms and signs could be tracked down if healthy organisms are construed as nomological machines and suggest that the causal reasoning from current medical practice bears (...)
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  • Thinking About Non-Universal Laws: Introduction to the Special Issue Ceteris Paribus Laws Revisited.Alexander Reutlinger & Matthias Unterhuber - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1703-1713.
    What are ceteris paribus laws? Which disciplines appeal to cp laws and which semantics, metaphysical underpinning, and epistemological dimensions do cp law statements have? Firstly, we give a short overview of the recent discussion on cp laws, which addresses these questions. Secondly, we suggest that given the rich and diverse literature on cp laws a broad conception of cp laws should be endorsed which takes into account the different ways in which laws can be non-universal . Finally, we provide an (...)
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  • Do Ceteris Paribus Laws Exist? A Regularity-Based Best System Analysis.Matthias Unterhuber - 2014 - Erkenntnis 79 (S10):1833-1847.
    This paper argues that ceteris paribus (cp) laws exist based on a Lewisian best system analysis of lawhood (BSA). Furthermore, it shows that a BSA faces a second trivialization problem besides the one identified by Lewis. The first point concerns an argument against cp laws by Earman and Roberts. The second point aims to help making some assumptions of the BSA explicit. To address the second trivialization problem, a restriction in terms of natural logical constants is proposed that allows one (...)
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