Every View is a View From Somewhere: Pragmatist Laws and Possibility

Theoria : An International Journal for Theory, History and Fundations of Science (2023)
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Humean accounts of laws are often contrasted with governing accounts, and recent developments have added pragmatic versions of Humeanism. This paper offers Mitchell's pragmatist, perspectival account of laws as a third option. The differences between these accounts come down to the role of modality. Mitchell's bottom-up account allows for subtle gradations of modal content to be conveyed by laws. The perspectival character of laws is not an accident or something to be eventually eliminated - it is part of how this modal content is conveyed. I conclude with a discussion of the metaphysical commitments in Humeanism as requiring a perspectiveless view of the manifold from outside, and how Mitchell's situated account is better able to account for the substantive notion of possibility involved in scientific laws.

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Holly Andersen
Simon Fraser University


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