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"Laws of Nature" as an Indexical Term: A Reinterpretation of Lewis's Best-System Analysis

John Roberts
Philosophy of Science
Vol. 66, Supplement. Proceedings of the 1998 Biennial Meetings of the Philosophy of Science Association. Part I: Contributed Papers (Sep., 1999), pp. S502-S511
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/188794
Page Count: 10
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"Laws of Nature" as an Indexical Term: A Reinterpretation of Lewis's Best-System Analysis
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Abstract

David Lewis's best-system analysis of laws of nature is perhaps the best known sophisticated regularity theory of laws. Its strengths are widely recognized, even by some of its ablest critics. Yet it suffers from what appears to be a glaring weakness: It seems to grant an arbitrary privilege to the standards of our own scientific culture. I argue that by reformulating, or reinterpreting, Lewis's exposition of the best-system analysis, we arrive at a view that is free of this weakness. The resulting theory of laws has the surprising consequence that the term "law of nature" is indexical.

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