Making best systems best for us

Synthese:1-26 (2018)
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Humean reductionism about laws of nature appears to leave a central aspect of scientific practice unmotivated: If the world’s fundamental structure is exhausted by the actual distribution of non-modal properties and the laws of nature are merely efficient summaries of this distribution, then why does science posit laws that cover a wide range of non-actual circumstances? In this paper, we develop a new version of the Humean best systems account of laws based on the idea that laws need to organize information in a way that maximizes their cognitive usefulness for creature like us. We argue that this account motivates scientific practice because the laws’ applicability to non-actual circumstances falls right out of their cognitive usefulness.
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Archival date: 2018-06-03
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Laws and Symmetry.van Fraassen, Bas C.
Time and Chance.Albert, David Z.

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What Humeans Should Say About Tied Best Systems.Loew, Christian & Jaag, Siegfried
Humean Laws and (Nested) Counterfactuals.Loew, Christian & Jaag, Siegfried
Breaking the Explanatory Circle.Hicks, Michael Townsen

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