"Achilles, Van Fraassen and the Laws of Nature - Prof. Bryson Brown (Department of Philosophy)

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The Department of Philosophy will present the following:

Achilles, Van Fraassen and the Laws of Nature 
Prof. Bryson Brown
Thursday, November 30, 2023
3 - 5 p.m.
TH204 (Turcotte Hall)

The paper examines Bas van Fraassen's rejection of substantial / realist accounts of "laws of nature." His objections illustrate the (negative) impact of first order Logic and formalized empiricism on our understanding of scientific theories. There is an important difference (as Dodgson's story of Achilles and the Tortoise shows) between sentences in a language and inference rules. Sellars's material reasoning appeals to inference rules connecting predicates of a language, rather than "generalisations" of observed regularities which (as Hume noted) seem perilous and untrustworthy at best. On Sellars's account, laws of nature are meta-linguistic expressions of inference rules applying to the predicates that 'appear' in them, and the laws of nature would be the inference rules applying to the predicates of an ideal language for describing the world.

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Bev Garnett | bev.garnett@uleth.ca | 403-380-1894 | ulethbridge.ca/artsci/philosophy