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Carving Nature at Its JointsNatural Kinds in Metaphysics and Science$
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Joseph Keim Campbell, Michael O'Rourke, and Matthew H. Slater

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015936

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015936.001.0001

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Are Fundamental Laws Necessary or Contingent?

Are Fundamental Laws Necessary or Contingent?

Chapter:
(p.97) 5 Are Fundamental Laws Necessary or Contingent?
Source:
Carving Nature at Its Joints
Author(s):

Noa Latham

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262015936.003.0005

This chapter focuses on the dispute between necessitarians and contingentists, mainly addressing the issue as to whether laws of nature are metaphysically necessary or metaphysically contingent with a weaker kind of necessity, commonly referred to as natural, nomological, or nomic necessity. It is assumed here that all fundamental properties are dispositional or role properties, making the dispute a strictly verbal one. The existence of categorical intrinsic properties as well as dispositional properties is also assumed and the relationship between them examined. Finally, the chapter concludes by returning to the debate between necessitarians and contingentists under the assumption that both dispositional and categorical fundamental properties exist. It is argued here that necessitarian positions can be recast as contingentist, but that there are unequivocally contingentist positions preferred because they are less mysterious despite being ontologically more complex.

Keywords:   necessitarians, contingentists, nomic necessity, fundamental properties, role properties, intrinsic properties, dispositional properties

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