Laws and Symmetry

Laws and Symmetry

by Bas C. van Fraassen
     
 

This is a book in the philosophy of science, which examines the concept of laws of nature. The author analyses and rejects arguments for the existence of such laws, and argues that there is no point in us believing that they exist. This has important implications for scientists, since he rejects the idea of law as an inadequate clue to science. In the second part of…  See more details below

Overview

This is a book in the philosophy of science, which examines the concept of laws of nature. The author analyses and rejects arguments for the existence of such laws, and argues that there is no point in us believing that they exist. This has important implications for scientists, since he rejects the idea of law as an inadequate clue to science. In the second part of the book he develops a philosophical approach to science which takes account of these objections. - ;Metaphysicians speak of laws of nature in terms of necessity and universality; scientists do so in terms of symmetry and invariance. This book argues that no metaphysical account of laws can succeed. The author analyses and rejects the arguments that there are laws of nature, or that we must believe that there are. He argues that we should discard the idea of law as an inadequate clue to science. After exploring what this means for general epistemology, the book develops the
empiricist view of science as a construction of models to represent the phenomena. Concepts of symmetry, transformation, and invariance illuminate the structure of such models. A central role is played in science by symmetry arguments, and it is shown how these function also in the philosophical
analysis of probability. The advocated approach presupposes no realism about laws or necessities in nature. - ;Introduction Part I: Are there laws of nature?; What are the laws of nature?; Ideal science: David Lewis's account of laws; Necessity, worlds, and chance; Universals: Laws grounded in nature; Part II: Belief as rational but lawless: Inference to the best explanation: Salvation by Laws?; Towards a new epistemology; What if there are no laws? A manifesto; Part III: Symmetry as guide to theory: Introduction to the Semantic approach; Symmetry arguments in science and
metaphysics; Symmetries guiding modern science; Part IV: Symmetry and the illusion of logical probability: Indifference: The symmetries of probability; Symmetries of probability kinematics; Notes; Bibliography; Index -

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780191519994
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
11/02/1989
Series:
Clarendon Paperbacks Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
2 MB

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