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Laws and Symmetry : Clarendon Paperbacks - Bas C. van Fraassen

Laws and Symmetry

Clarendon Paperbacks

Paperback Published: 2nd November 1989
ISBN: 9780198248606
Number Of Pages: 416

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Metaphysicians speak of laws of nature in terms of necessity and universality; scientists do so in terms of symmetry and invariance. This book argues that no metaphysical account of laws can succeed. The author analyses and rejects the arguments that there are laws of nature, or that we must believe that there are. He argues that we should discard the idea of law as an inadequate clue to science. After exploring what this means for general epistemology, the book develops the empiricist view of science as a construction of models to represent the phenomena. Concepts of symmetry, transformation, and invariance illuminate the structure of such models. A central role is played in science by symmetry arguments, and it is shown how these function also in the philosophical analysis of probability. The advocated approach presupposes no realism about laws or necessities in nature.

`innovative if not provocative Philosophical Quarterly of Israel, Vol 22, No 3-5 Dec 93 `a marvelously clear and incisive exposition of the problems facing definitions of laws of nature The Philosophical Review, Vol 102, No 3 (July 1993) `the real excitement and power of the book comes from the new perspective it brings.' Times Higher Education Supplement `I wholeheartedly recommend this book. There are many things to be learnt from it, not least its incisive criticisms of "more metaphysical" theories of laws. The work is executed with great erudition and panache.' Peter Menzies, Australian National University

Introduction Part I: Are there laws of nature?; What are the laws of nature?; Ideal science: David Lewis's account of laws; Necessity, worlds, and chance; Universals: Laws grounded in nature; Part II: Belief as rational but lawless: Inference to the best explanation: Salvation by Laws?; Towards a new epistemology; What if there are no laws? A manifesto; Part III: Symmetry as guide to theory: Introduction to the Semantic approach; Symmetry arguments in science and metaphysics; Symmetries guiding modern science; Part IV: Symmetry and the illusion of logical probability: Indifference: The symmetries of probability; Symmetries of probability kinematics; Notes; Bibliography; Index

ISBN: 9780198248606
ISBN-10: 0198248601
Series: Clarendon Paperbacks
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 416
Published: 2nd November 1989
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 21.8 x 14.7  x 2.4
Weight (kg): 0.55