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Humean laws and pattern-subsuming explanations

Duguid, Callum (2018) Humean laws and pattern-subsuming explanations. [Preprint]

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Abstract

A long-standing charge of circularity against regularity accounts of laws has recently seen a surge of renewed interest. The difficulty is that we appeal to laws to explain their worldly instances, but if these laws are descriptions of regularities in the instances then they are explained by those very instances. By the transitivity of explanation, we reach an absurd conclusion: instances of the laws explain themselves. While drawing a distinction between metaphysical and scientific explanations merely modifies the challenge rather than resolving it, I argue that it does point us towards an attractive solution. According to Humeanism, the most prominent form of the regularity view, laws capture information about important patterns in the phenomena. By invoking laws in scientific explanations, Humeans are showing how a given explanandum is subsumed into a more general pattern. Doing so both serves to increase our understanding and undermines a principle of transitivity that plays a crucial role in the circularity argument.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Duguid, Callumcalduguid@gmail.com0000-0001-7140-6225
Keywords: Laws of nature · Grounding · Explanation · Humeanism · Lewis
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Depositing User: Callum Duguid
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2018 20:44
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2018 20:44
Item ID: 15196
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Date: October 2018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15196

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