Why There Are No Laws in the Special Sciences: Three Arguments

Jaegwon Kim

in Essays in the Metaphysics of Mind

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780199585878
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595349 | DOI:
Why There Are No Laws in the Special Sciences: Three Arguments

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“Why There Are No Laws in the Special Sciences: Three Arguments” offers three arguments explaining why there are no laws, or “strict” laws, in the special sciences. The first of the arguments begins with a consideration of Donald Davidson's argument for his anomalism of the mental, the thesis that there are no laws about intentional mental phenomena. The second argument builds on some of J.J.C. Smart's observations concerning biology and its relationship to the fundamental science of physics. His claim is that, unlike physics, biology does not aim at the discovery of laws, and that engineering, not physics, is the correct model for understanding the status of biology. The argument yields a simple metaphysical argument for Davidson's anomalism of the mental. The last of the three arguments is based on the author's earlier work on multiply realizable properties and their projectibility. It argues that most special‐science properties are multiply realizable, and that multiply realizable properties, on account of their causal/nomological heterogeneity, are not inductively projectible and hence are not fit for laws.

Keywords: special science; law; strict law; anomalism of the mental; biology; engineering; causal closure; idiosyncrasy; multiple realization; projectibility

Chapter.  11777 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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