Regularities, Natural Patterns and Laws of Nature

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THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, ISSN: 0495-4548, Vol: 29, Issue: 1, Page: 9-27

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Psillos, Stathis
UPV/EHU Press; Euskal Herriko Unibertsitatea / Universidad del PaĆ­s Vasco
Arts and Humanities
article description
The goal of this paper is to outline and defend an empiricist metaphysics of laws of nature. The key empiricist idea is that there are regularities without regularity-enforcers. Differently put, there are natural laws without law-makers of a distinct metaphysical kind. This outline relies on the concept of a 'natural pattern' and more significantly on the existence of a network of natural patterns in nature. The relation between a regularity and a pattern will be analysed in terms of mereology. Here is the road map. In section 2, I briefly discuss the relation between empiricism and metaphysics, aiming to show that an empiricist metaphysics is possible. In section 3, I offer arguments against stronger metaphysical views of laws. Then, in section 4, I motivate nomic objectivism. In section 5, I address the question 'what is a regularity?' and develop a novel answer to it, based on the notion of a pattern. In section 6, I analyse the notion of pattern and in section 7 I raise the question: 'what is a law of nature?', the answer to which is: a law of nature is a regularity that is characterised by the unity of a natural pattern.