Are non-accidental regularities a cosmic coincidence? Revisiting a central threat to Humean laws

Synthese 198 (6):5205-5227 (2019)
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Abstract

If the laws of nature are as the Humean believes, it is an unexplained cosmic coincidence that the actual Humean mosaic is as extremely regular as it is. This is a strong and well-known objection to the Humean account of laws. Yet, as reasonable as this objection may seem, it is nowadays sometimes dismissed. The reason: its unjustified implicit assignment of equiprobability to each possible Humean mosaic; that is, its assumption of the principle of indifference, which has been attacked on many grounds ever since it was first proposed. In place of equiprobability, recent formal models represent the doxastic state of total ignorance as suspension of judgment. In this paper I revisit the cosmic coincidence objection to Humean laws by assessing which doxastic state we should endorse. By focusing on specific features of our scenario I conclude that suspending judgment results in an unnecessarily weak doxastic state. First, I point out that recent literature in epistemology has provided independent justifications of the principle of indifference. Second, given that the argument is framed within a Humean metaphysics, it turns out that we are warranted to appeal to these justifications and assign a uniform and additive credence distribution among Humean mosaics. This leads us to conclude that, contrary to widespread opinion, we should not dismiss the cosmic coincidence objection to the Humean account of laws.

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Aldo Filomeno
Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso

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