Metaphysics of laws of nature

Thumbnail Image
LoVetri, Joe
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
I argue that, because fundamental scientific theories are attempts to tell us something about reality, we are required to take into account the metaphysical features of those theories. I claim that a guarded realism is the proper stance to take toward fundamental scientific theories: philosophically, one must guard against accepting every posit at face value. Laws of nature are one of the posits of fundamental scientific theories and, since they are part of the nomic, I argue that they cannot be eliminated from the ontology of the world. I consider whether the nomic can be reduced to the Humean base and argue that doing so leaves us with no metaphysical explanation for the regularities we observe. I agree with Galen Strawson that the world requires a metaphysically real glue to hold it together and argue that this glue is accounted for by reifying the nomic and not reducing any of the nomic concepts to the Humean base. I argue, against Helen Beebee, that a regularity theorist about laws of nature and causation makes the world out to be a world without reasons for the regularities, which is not acceptable. I consider the Best System Analysis of laws of nature in conjunction with Humean Supervenience and show that it is not able to account for objective chance in a metaphysically acceptable way. I then turn to Armstrong’s contingent relation among universals account of laws of nature and consider Bird’s ultimate argument against it. I argue that one way to overcome the argument is to allow that some universals have nontrivial modal character, which is an acceptable solution for the nomic realist.
Metaphysics, Laws of Nature