Natural Laws in Scientific Practice

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Oxford University Press, Jun 8, 2000 - Science - 368 pages
It is often presumed that the laws of nature have special significance for scientific reasoning. But the laws' distinctive roles have proven notoriously difficult to identify--leading some philosophers to question if they hold such roles at all. This study offers original accounts of the roles that natural laws play in connection with counterfactual conditionals, inductive projections, and scientific explanations, and of what the laws must be in order for them to be capable of playing these roles. Particular attention is given to laws of special sciences, levels of scientific explanation, natural kinds, ceteris-paribus clauses, and physically necessary non-laws.
 

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Fresh and penetrating.

Contents

1 INTRODUCTION
3
2 THE RELATION OF LAWS TO COUNTERFACTUALS
42
3 WHY ARE THE LAWS OF NATURE SO IMPORTANT TO SCIENCE I?
95
4 INDUCTIVE CONFIRMABILITY AND PHYSICAL NECESSITY
111
5 WHY ARE THE LAWS OF NATURE SO IMPORTANT TO SCIENCE II?
143
6 LAWS REGULARITIES AND PROVISOS
160
7 THE ROOT COMMITMENT
192
8 THE AUTONOMY OF SCIENTIFIC DISCIPLINES AND LEVELS OF SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION
228
Afterword
273
Notes
277
References
331
Index
341
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