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AF Chalmers - What is this thing called Science?

Chapter 14 – Why should the world obey laws?

 

 

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Chalmers

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213

Chapter 14 – Why should the world obey laws?

The world should not obey laws, but we have sometimes observed that, at macroscopic level, it does.

213

Two chapters about ontology, i.e. about what exists in our world.

 

213

The idea that the world is governed by laws that it is the business of science to discover is commonplace, but problematic.

Observations may reveal regularities when they exist.  For irregularities, e.g. when clouds obscure the sun, we cannot formulate laws.

213

Chalmers discusses the term “law” on a low level.

A law is a hypothesis concerning observed regularities, verified several times and never falsified. Laws have been discovered by humans.

214

Chalmers claims erroneously that Hume's standpoint was that it is a mistake to assume that law like behavior is caused by anything.

Hume was a determinist and believed that everything had a cause. He discussed convincingly that a cause can be observed from its constant conjunction with its effect, but that we never can show this connection using deductive arguments.

214-216

Chalmers continues to list oddly erroneously aiming examples as arguments for problems

Chalmers fills out his book in a similar fashion as in the introduction and in chapters 1-4.

217-218

 

Chalmers claims a solution of the problems he listed: Thing happen in the world of their own accord!

219

Causes and laws are intimately linked.

A law is a hypothesis concerning observed regularities, verified several times and never falsified. A cause cannot, as Hume pointed out (see comment to p.214) deductively be inferred from its effect.

Laws and the cause that the law describes can be shown by experience to be conjoined, but they cannot deductively be inferred to be so.

219

The gravitational attraction of the moon is the main cause of the tides.

“Gravitation” is a term indicting that we have noted that something appears to be drawn to something else, and not a cause where we have deductive arguments between cause and effect.

Except for the result, which we can observe, measure and form a relation about, the properties of gravitation is for us completely unknown.

219

It is the active powers at work in nature that makes laws true when they are true.

Chalmers uses language carelessly, or believes that laws are “true”, which would be very odd.

Laws, which without exception are based on observations, are not representing “absolutely certain knowledge”. Nothing in our perceived reality represents such a “truth”. Laws are formed by probability reasoning, where the probability that their description corresponds to our perceived reality is very high.

219

The majority of philosophers seem reluctant to accept an ontology which includes dispositions or powers as primitive.

It is because when we claim something to be a “cause”, we do not know this deductively; we only believe this based on observations.

221

“The casual view of laws” understands laws as characterizing causal powers.

What Chalmers calls a cause, is just a word that describes the effect.

See the discussion about gravitation in the comment to p.219.

 
 

 

 

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