Non-Humean Laws and Scientific Practice

Erkenntnis (forthcoming)
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Abstract
Laws of nature have various roles in scientific practice. It is widely agreed that an adequate theory of lawhood ought to align with the roles that scientists assign to the laws. But philosophers disagree over whether Humean laws or non-Humean laws are better at filling these roles. In this paper, I provide a new argument for settling this dispute. I consider (epistemically) possible situations in which scientists receive conclusive evidence that---according to the non-Humean---falsifies their beliefs about the laws, but which---according to the Humean---does not falsify their beliefs about the laws. I argue that, in these possible scenarios, all law-related aspects of scientific practice would remain unchanged. In other words, scientists would treat the regularities "preferred" by the Humean as the laws of nature. On this basis, I conclude that non-Humean laws fail to align with scientific practice.
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Archival date: 2020-09-12
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2020-09-12

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