Chapter

Do the Laws of Physics State the Facts?

Nancy Cartwright

in How the Laws of Physics Lie

Published in print June 1983 | ISBN: 9780198247043
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191597152 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0198247044.003.0004
 Do the Laws of Physics State the Facts?

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The facticity view of fundamental laws of physics takes them to state facts about reality. To preserve the facticity of laws in the face of complex phenomena with multiple intervening factors, composition of causes, often by vector addition, is invoked. However, this addition should be read only as a metaphor, for only the resultant force is real. The truth and the explanatory power of laws can both be preserved by viewing laws as describing causal powers (or capacities) that objects possess, but this view would require a new account of explanation.

Keywords: capacities; causal powers; composition of causes; explanatory power; facticity view of laws; vector addition

Chapter.  7105 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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