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The Non-Governing Conception of Laws of Nature

Helen Beebee
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research
Vol. 61, No. 3 (Nov., 2000), pp. 571-594
DOI: 10.2307/2653613
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2653613
Page Count: 24
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The Non-Governing Conception of Laws of Nature
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Abstract

Recently several thought experiments have been developed (by John Carroll amongst others) which have been alleged to refute the Ramsey-Lewis view of laws of nature. The paper aims to show that two such thought experiments fail to establish that the Ramsey-Lewis view is false, since they presuppose a conception of laws of nature that is radically at odds with the Humean conception of laws embodied by the Ramsey-Lewis view. In particular, the thought experiments presuppose that laws of nature govern the behavior of objects. The paper argues that the claim that laws govern should not be regarded as a conceptual truth, and shows how the governing conception of laws manifests itself in the thought experiments. Hence the thought experiments do not constitute genuine counter-examples to the Ramsey-Lewis view, since the Humean is free to reject the conception of laws which the thought experiments presuppose.

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