What is a Law of Nature?

What is a Law of Nature?

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This is a study of a crucial and controversial topic in metaphysics and the philosophy of science: the status of the laws of nature. D. M. Armstrong works out clearly and in comprehensive detail a largely original view that laws are relations between properties or universals. The theory is continuous with the views on universals and more generally with the scientific realism that Professor Armstrong has advanced in earlier publications. He begins here by mounting an attack on the orthodox and sceptical view deriving from Hume that laws assert no more than a regularity of coincidence between instances of properties. In doing so he presents what may become the definitive statement of the case against this position. Professor Armstrong then goes on to establish his own theory in a systematic manner defending it against the most likely objections, and extending both it and the related theory of universals to cover functional and statistical laws. This treatment of the subject is refreshingly concise and vivid: it will both stimulate vigorous professional debate and make an excellent student text.show more

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Review quote

'[A] splendid and stimulating ... book. If disputable, it is also comprehensive, clear, concise, fair to opponents and full of good, original arguments. All future work on laws starts here.' D. H. Mellor, The Times Literary Supplementshow more

Table of contents

Acknowledgements; Part I. A Critique of the Regularity Theory: 1. Introductory; 2. Critique of the regularity theory (1): the problem of accidental uniformities; 3. Critique of the regularity theory (2); 4. Critique of the regularity theory (3); Part II. Laws of Nature as Relations Between Universals: 6. Laws of nature as relations between universals; 7. Functional laws; 8. Unsubstantiated laws; 9. Probabilistic laws; 10. Further considerations concerning the form of laws; 11. Are the laws of nature necessary or contingent?; Conclusions; Index.show more

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18 ratings
3.77 out of 5 stars
5 11% (2)
4 56% (10)
3 33% (6)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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