Crystallized Regularities

Journal of Philosophy (forthcoming)
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This essay proposes a reductive account of robust macro-regularities (sometimes called ‘special science laws’). On the view proposed, regularities can earn their elite scientific status by featuring in good summaries of restricted regions in the space of physical possibilities: our ‘modal neighborhoods’. I argue that this view vindicates ‘nomic foundationalism’ (that is, the view that the physical laws sustain all robust regularities), while doing justice to the practice of invoking physically contingent generalizations in higher-level explanations. Moreover, the view suggests an explanation for the particular significance of robust macro-regularities: we rely on summaries of our modal neighborhoods when reasoning hypothetically about ‘agentially accessible’ possibilities
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