What is the origin of the concept of a law of nature? How much does it owe to theology and metaphysics? To what extent do the laws of nature permit contingency? Are there exceptions to the laws of nature? Is it possible to give a reductive analysis of lawhood, or is it a primitive? Twelve brand-new essays by an international team of leading philosophers take up these and other central questions on the laws of nature, whilst also examining some of the most important intuitions and assumptions that have guided the debate over laws of nature since the concept's invention in the seventeenth century.
Laws of Nature spans the history of philosophy and of science, contemporary metaphysics, and contemporary philosophy of science.
Walter Ott is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Descartes, Malebranche, and the Crisis of Perception (2017), Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy (2009), and Lockes Philosophy of Language (2004). His work has appeared in such journals as Archiv fur Geschichte der Philosophie and Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Lydia Patton is an Associate Professor at Virginia Tech. She edited Philosophy, Science, and History: A Guide and Reader (2014), and co-edited, with Benjamin Jantzen and Deborah Mayo, a special issue of Synthese on ontology and methodology. Her work has appeared in Synthese, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Kant-Studien, and Historia Mathematica, among others, and in The Oxford Handbook of German Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century. She is editor-in-chief of HOPOS.