The modal status of the laws of nature. Tahko’s hybrid view and the kinematical/dynamical distinction

European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (1):1-15 (2021)
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In a recent paper, Tuomas Tahko has argued for a hybrid view of the laws of nature, according to which some physical laws are metaphysically necessary, while others are metaphysically contingent. In this paper, we show that his criterion for distinguishing between these two kinds of laws — which crucially relies on the essences of natural kinds — is on its own unsatisfactory. We then propose an alternative way of drawing the metaphysically necessary/contingent distinction for laws of physics based on the central kinematical/dynamical distinction used in physical theorising, and argue that the criterion can be used to amend Tahko’s own account, but also that it can be combined with different metaphysical views about the source of necessity.

Author Profiles

Robert Michels
Universidade de Lisboa
Salim Hirèche
University of Geneva (PhD)
Lisa Vogt
University of Geneva
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