Laws and Lawmakers: Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $19.30
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 28%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (7) from $19.30   
  • New (4) from $21.02   
  • Used (3) from $19.30   


Laws of nature have long puzzled philosophers. What distinguishes laws from facts about the world that do not rise to the level of laws? How can laws be contingent and nevertheless necessary? In this brief, accessible study, Lange offers provocative and original answers to these questions. He argues that laws are distinguished by their necessity, which is grounded in primitive subjunctive facts (expressed by counterfactual conditionals). While recognizing that natural necessity is distinct from logical, metaphysical, and mathematical necessity, Lange explains how natural necessity constitutes a species of the same genus as those other varieties of necessity.

Along the way, Lange discusses the relation between laws and objective chances, as well as such unjustly neglected topics as the completeness of the laws of physics and whether the laws of nature can change. Lange's elegant, engagingly written book is non-technical and suitable for undergraduate philosophers (and undergraduate scientists interested in the logical foundations of science). It is "must reading" for metaphysicians and philosophers of science working on laws, chance, counterfactuals, modality, or the philosophy of physics.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book presents a compact yet thorough exposition and defense of an important position about the metaphysics of natural laws. The level of philosophical argumentation is consistently high, and while the dialectic gets quite intricate at times, Language more than compensates by writing in a lucid and thoroughly engaging manner. I think it's a must read, for anyone interested in the nature of natural laws." —Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195328141
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/9/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 280
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Marc Lange is Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Laws Form Counterfactually Stable Sets
1. Welcome
2. Their necessity sets the laws apart
3. The laws's persistence under counterfactuals
4. Nomic preservation
5. Beyond nomic preservation
6. A host of related problems: triviality, circularity, arbitrariness
7. Sub-nomic stability
8. No nonmaximal set containing accidents possesses sub-nomic stability
9. How two sub-nomically stable sets must be related: multiple strata of natural laws
10. Why the laws would still have been laws
11. Conclusion: laws form stable sets
Chapter 2: Natural Necessity
1. Our goal in this chapter
2. The Euthyphro question
3. David Lewis's "Best-System Account"
4. Lewis's account and the laws's supervenience
5. The Euthyphro question returns
6. Are all relative necessities created equal?
7. The modality principle
8. A proposal for distinguishing genuine from merely relative modalities
9. Borrowing a strategy from Chapter 1
10. Necessity as maximal invariance
11. The laws form a system
12. Scientific essentialism squashes the pyramid
13. Why there is a natural ordering of the genuine modalities
14. Conclusion: stability, as maximal invariance, involves necessity
Chapter 4: A World of Subjunctives
1. What if the lawmakers were subjunctive facts?
2. The lawmakers's regress
3. Stability
4. Avoiding adhocery
5. nstantaneous rates of change and the causal explanation problem
6. Et in Arcadia ego
7. The rule of law
8. Why the laws must be complete
9. Envoi: Am I cheating?

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)