Regularities, Natural Patterns and Laws of Nature



Published 10-01-2014
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.

How to Cite

Psillos, S. (2014). Regularities, Natural Patterns and Laws of Nature. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, 29(1), 9–27.
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Laws of nature, regularities, empiricism, metaphysics, pattern