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What is a law of nature? Just a generalisation from experience? Or something different? Helen Beebee investigates these questions in this episode of the Philosophy Bites podcast.
Philosophy Bites is made in association with the Institute of Philosophy.
Listen to Helen Beebee on Laws of Nature
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My view is that "laws of nature" in this context are more easily sorted out if you use "lawfulness" and to this you still need your thoughts to come in a row and life be allowed to live. It's also a recommendation of mine that one doesn't mix "laws of nature" and what these laws of nature are supposed to be because it quickly gets incredibly complicated and one is still discussing the status of "laws of nature" in Phil. of Science as a separate them, thus underlining the complexity of this issue! Lastly it should be noted that Helen Beebee points to "necessary connections of nature" in a sentence that really takes out David Hume on this. Thanks for the podcast!
December 05, 2010 at 12:11 PM
Helen Beebee said: "We need to give some kind of an account of why it is that the laws of nature are the things we hold fixed when we engage in counterfactual reasoning, whereas the accidental generalisations we don't hold fixed."
Aren't all laws of nature deliberately designed this way ? Each one is the culmination of centuries of creative effort by many highly gifted individuals (Newton's "giants"), and has been crafted specially to be a general, abstract, time-invariant model of some part of reality in conjunction with other laws of nature designed by forebears in a similar way.
Comparing a law of nature to an accidental generalisation is like comparing the Eiffel Tower to a Lego house, or the Beethoven Ninth to a casual ditty.
March 26, 2011 at 11:18 PM
Helen Beebee said: "[...]things tick along in this nice regular way just is a brute fact about the universe. There's no explanation for why that should be the case."
The Anthropic Principle ?
March 31, 2011 at 02:41 PM
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