Regularities, Natural Patterns and Laws of Nature

Stathis Psillos



The goal of this paper is to sketch an empiricist metaphysics of laws of nature. The key idea is that there are regularities without regularity-enforcers. Differently put, there are natural laws without law-makers of a distinct metaphysical kind. This sketch will rely on the concept of a natural pattern and more significantly on the existence of a network of natural patterns in nature. The relation between a regularity and a pattern will be analysed in terms of mereology.  Here is the road map. In section 2, I will briefly discuss the relation between empiricism and metaphysics, aiming to show that an empiricist metaphysics is possible. In section 3, I will offer arguments against stronger metaphysical views of laws. Then, in section 4 I will motivate nomic objectivism. In section 5, I will address the question ‘what is a regularity?’ and will develop a novel answer to it, based on the notion of a natural pattern. In section 6, I will raise the question: ‘what is a law of nature?’, the answer to which will be: a law of nature is a regularity that is characterised by the unity of a natural pattern.


Laws of nature, regularities, empiricism, metaphysics, pattern

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