Laws and Symmetry

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Overview


Metaphysicians speak of laws of nature in terms of necessity and universality; scientists, in terms of symmetry and invariance. In this book van Fraassen argues that no metaphysical account of laws can succeed. He analyzes and rejects the arguments that there are laws of nature, or that we must believe there are, and argues that we should disregard the idea of law as an inadequate clue to science. After exploring what this means for general epistemology, the author develops the empiricist view of science as a construction of models to represent the phenomena.

The author argues that no metaphysical account of laws can succeed and rejects the idea that there are laws of nature.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The most readable of the recent literature in the emerging field....This book might be the exemplar chosen by faculty of introductory philosophy of science programs. Highly recommended for all library collections in the philosophy of science."—Choice

"A fundamentally important contribution to philosophy. It is van Fraassen's finest book. With tight, careful arguments he demolishes the more prominent philosophical analyses of laws of nature. His definitive attack on inference to the best explanation leaves that notion thoroughly discredited and without a shred of credibility....In a pioneering discussion he also shows that symmetry considerations cannot provide that 'something more' philosophers demand of laws. The book further advances van Fraassen's own epistemological views and enhances our understanding of the Semantic Approach to philosophy and its superiority to earlier syntactical approaches. Laws and Symmetry is one of the best works in philosophy of science this century."—Frederick Suppe, University of Maryland

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198248606
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/4/1990
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 416
  • Lexile: 1240L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.44 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Princeton University
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Table of Contents

Introduction

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