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Best-System Laws, Explanation, and Unification

Blanchard, Thomas (2023) Best-System Laws, Explanation, and Unification. [Preprint]


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In recent years, an active research program has emerged that aims to develop a
Humean best-system account (BSA) of laws of nature that improves on Lewis’s canonical
articulation of the view. Its guiding idea is that the laws are cognitive tools tailored to the
specific needs and limitations of creatures like us. While current versions of this “pragmatic
Humean” research program fare much better than Lewis’s account along many dimensions,
I will argue that they have trouble making sense of certain key features of the practice of
fundamental physics. Indeed, these features seem to go against the very idea that laws are
useful for agents like us. In my view, Humeans can address these issues by paying more
attention to the explanatory role of laws. Following this idea, I will propose an account on
which what makes a systematization the best is a kind of explanatory power, understood
along the lines of the unificationist theory of explanation. The resulting view, I will argue,
can make sense of those features of laws that other pragmatic accounts of laws have
trouble explaining.

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Item Type: Preprint
Blanchard, Thomastblancha@uni-koeln.de0000-0001-5002-7517
Keywords: laws, unification, humeanism, explanation, best-system
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Depositing User: Thomas Blanchard
Date Deposited: 26 May 2023 19:53
Last Modified: 26 May 2023 19:53
Item ID: 22139
Subjects: General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Date: 2023

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