Making best systems best for us

Synthese 197 (6):2525-2550 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

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.

Author Profiles

Christian Loew
Umeå University
Siegfried Jaag
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Analytics

Added to PP
2018-06-02

Downloads
570 (#26,615)

6 months
109 (#31,019)

Historical graph of downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks on external links on PhilPapers.
How can I increase my downloads?