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Models: The Blueprints for Laws

Nancy Cartwright
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 64, Supplement. Proceedings of the 1996 Biennial Meetings of the Philosophy of Science Association. Part II: Symposia Papers (Dec., 1997), pp. S292-S303
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/188411
Page Count: 12
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Models: The Blueprints for Laws
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Abstract

In this paper the claim that laws of nature are to be understood as claims about what necessarily or reliably happens is disputed. Laws can characterize what happens in a reliable way, but they do not do this easily. We do not have laws for everything occurring in the world, but only for those situations where what happens in nature is represented by a model: models are blueprints for nomological machines, which in turn give rise to laws. An example from economics shows, in particular, how we use--and how we need to use--models to get probabilistic laws.

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