Stable regularities without governing laws?

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 66:186-197 (2019)
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Can stable regularities be explained without appealing to governing laws or any other modal notion? In this paper, I consider what I will call a ‘Humean system’—a generic dynamical system without guiding laws—and assess whether it could display stable regularities. First, I present what can be interpreted as an account of the rise of stable regularities, following from Strevens [2003], which has been applied to explain the patterns of complex systems (such as those from meteorology and statistical mechanics). Second, since this account presupposes that the underlying dynamics displays deterministic chaos, I assess whether it can be adapted to cases where the underlying dynamics is not chaotic but truly random—that is, cases where there is no dynamics guiding the time evolution of the system. If this is so, the resulting stable, apparently non-accidental regularities are the fruit of what can be called statistical necessity rather than of a primitive physical necessity.

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Aldo Filomeno
Universidad Catolica de Valparaiso


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