Powerful Properties, Powerless Laws

In Jonathan D. Jacobs (ed.), Causal Powers. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. pp. 38-53 (2017)
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Abstract

I argue that the best scientific package is anti-Humean in its ontology, but Humean in its laws. This is because potencies and the best system account of laws complement each other surprisingly well. If there are potencies, then the BSA is the most plausible account of the laws of nature. Conversely, if the BSA is the correct theory of laws, then formulating the laws in terms of potencies rather than categorical properties avoids three serious objections: the mismatch objection, the impoverished worlds objection, and the metaphysical 'oomph' objection. I argue that combining anti-Humean properties with Humean laws into a Potency-Best System Account of Laws is a powerful and science-friendly account---something that people on both sides should be able to appreciate.

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Heather Demarest
University of Colorado, Boulder

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