Nancy Cartwright, Anna Alexandrova, Sophia Efstathiou, Andrew Hamilton and Ioan Muntean

in The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Philosophy

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780199234769
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:



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  • Epistemology



For a long time the analytic tradition in philosophy of science focused on two main questions about laws: ‘Can one reasonably take a realist stand about the laws of science?’ and ‘What distinguishes a law from other kinds of truths, especially from universal and statistical truths that are not laws?’ This article discusses five overlapping positions that downplay the role of laws in science and nature. The slogan of all of these could be Ronald Giere's ‘Science without laws!’ Before that the second section describes more traditional views that take laws as central, either as the repository of scientific knowledge (laws of science) or as the basic sources or governors for what happens (laws of nature).

Keywords: analytic philosophy; philosophy of science; laws of science; statistical truths; scientific knowledge; laws of nature

Article.  12189 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy ; Epistemology

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