Wednesday, August 28, 2019

A hybrid view of laws

The big divide about laws of nature is whether the laws are pushy or descriptive.

It seems to me that a plausible view is that some are pushy and some are descriptive. This is what I think one gets on an Aristotelian view: there are laws describing which mutually harmonious natures are instantiated, and the instantiated natures then push stuff around in lawlike ways. For instance, there may be a descriptive law that says that all particles have natures of the quantum sort (rather than, say, of the Newtonian sort), and there are pushy laws that, say, prohibit two electrons from sharing the same state.


Michael Gonzalez said...

Hmmm... I don't know. If there is a property about the electrons themselves which prevents them from sharing the same state, the law that says they never do share the same state is not "pushing" the matter. It's still just descriptive.

More generally, if instantiated natures push stuff around, the laws still just describe how they do so. You could never tell a causal story from the law to the instantiation.

Alexander R Pruss said...

The law would be grounded in that property of the electrons.