Tooley’s account of the necessary connection between law and regularity

Philosophical Studies 166 (1):33-43 (2013)
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Abstract

Fred Dretske, Michael Tooley, and David Armstrong accept a theory of governing laws of nature according to which laws are atomic states of affairs that necessitate corresponding natural regularities. Some philosophers object to the Dretske/Tooley/Armstrong theory on the grounds that there is no illuminating account of the necessary connection between governing law and natural regularity. In response, Michael Tooley has provided a reductive account of this necessary connection in his book Causation (1987). In this essay, I discuss an improved version of his account and argue that it fails. First, the account cannot be extended to explain the necessary connection between certain sorts of laws—namely, probabilistic laws and laws relating structural universals—and their corresponding regularities. Second, Tooley’s account succeeds only by (very subtly) incorporating primitive necessity elsewhere, so the problem of avoiding primitive necessity is merely relocated

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Tyler Hildebrand
Dalhousie University

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