The metaphysical status of natural laws: A critique of Stephen Mumford’s Nomological Antirealism

Bruno Borge


The issues of laws of nature and the modality underlying natural regularity have often been treated as one. Metaphysical analysis shows, however, that only those positions that assume an ontological commitment to laws of nature can be considered within Nomological Realism (NR). Mumford (2004) proposes an alternative to NR compatible with the modal commitments commonly associated with realist positions. In this view, the weight of modality is not set on laws but on properties — understood in terms of powers and propensities. A Realist Lawlessness (RL), according to his own nomenclature. In this paper I aim to show, first, that Mumford’s arguments against NR do not justify its rejection. Second, I argue that the dispositional metaphysic of RL leads at least to the same problems as NR.

Keywords: laws of nature, scientific laws, Nomological Realism, Stephen Mumford.

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ISSN: 1984-8234 - Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox

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