What is a Law of Nature?

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In philosophy, there is much debate as to what constitutes a ‘law of nature’. In this essay, I will be critically examining the Naive Regularity Theory of Laws, a popular philosophical account of laws of nature. A proponent of this theory claims that p is a statement of a law of nature if and only if it is universally quantified (in the form ‘All Fs are Gs’). The statement must also be true (across all space and time) and it cannot be a logical necessity, like the statement ‘all bachelors are unmarried men’ is. Given these conditions, a law of nature for a Naive Regularity theorist is a cosmic or Humean uniformity. A law of nature is simply a regularity which holds across the whole universe and its entire history. The theory can also correctly be described as being minimalist because it says that a law of nature is nothing over and above the collection of its instances.

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Originally published at www.samwoolfe.com on July 22, 2018.

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