Armstrong's Theory

John Foster

in The Divine Lawmaker

Published in print January 2004 | ISBN: 9780199250592
Published online April 2004 | e-ISBN: 9780191600913 | DOI:
 Armstrong's Theory

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One way of trying to make sense of nomic necessity would be to adopt the account of laws offered by David Armstrong. Armstrong's claim is that laws are to be ultimately construed as relationships between universals. Specifically, he claims that there is a two‐place relation R such that any law to the effect that all Fs are G is to be ultimately construed as the state of affairs of F‐ness being R‐related to G‐ness, where this state of affairs is both contingent and logically entails (without being entailed by) the obtaining of the corresponding regularity (that all Fs are G). If this account were correct, it would eliminate the problem of laws. For each such relationship between universals would logically oblige things to be regular in the relevant way, and in that sense, make the obtaining of the regularity necessary; and, given the contingency of the relationship, the necessity involved would be nonstrict. But the decisive objection to Armstrong's account is that we cannot envisage a form of relationship between universals that would meet the required conditions; nor can we even understand how such a form of relationship would be possible.

Keywords: Armstrong; contingency; law; nomic necessity; nonstrict; problem of laws; regularity; relationships between universals; universal

Chapter.  7500 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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