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Simplicity, Language-Dependency and the Best System Account of Laws

Wheeler, Billy (2016) Simplicity, Language-Dependency and the Best System Account of Laws. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 31 (2). pp. 189-206. ISSN 2171-679X

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Abstract

It is often said that the best system account of laws (BSA) needs supplementing with a theory of perfectly natural properties. The ‘strength’ and ‘simplicity’ of a system is language-relative and without a fixed vocabulary it is impossible to compare rival systems. Recently a number of philosophers have attempted to reformulate the BSA in an effort to avoid commitment to natural properties. I assess these proposals and argue that they are problematic as they stand. Nonetheless, I agree with their aim, and show that if simplicity is interpreted as ‘compression’, algorithmic information theory provides a framework for system comparison without the need for natural properties.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Wheeler, Billybilly.wheeler@ucl.ac.uk
Additional Information: ISSN: 0495-4548 (print)
Keywords: laws of nature; best system account; natural properties; algorithmic information theory; invariance theorem
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email theoria@ehu.es
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2016 19:49
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2016 19:49
Item ID: 12181
Journal or Publication Title: THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science
Publisher: Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del País Vasco
Official URL: http://www.ehu.eus/ojs/index.php/THEORIA/article/v...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1387/theoria.14558
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Date: May 2016
Page Range: pp. 189-206
Volume: 31
Number: 2
ISSN: 2171-679X
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12181

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