Some Morals from the Physico-Mathematical Character of Scientific Laws


  • Cristian Soto Departamento de Filosofía, Universidad de Chile



Scientific laws, laws of nature, mathematics, metaphysics, ontology


This article derives some morals from the examination of the physico-mathematical view of scientific laws and its place in the current debate. After revisiting the expression scientific law, which appears in scientific practice under various names (laws, principles, equations, symmetries, and postulates), I briefly assess two extreme, opposite positions in the literature on laws, namely, full-blown metaphysics of laws of nature, which distinguishes such laws from the more mundane laws that we find in science; and the no-laws thesis, which ultimately contends that we should dispense with laws in science altogether. I argue that both positions fail to make sense of the laws that we find in scientific practice. For this, I outline the following twofold claim: first, most laws (in physics) are abstract mathematical statements; and second, they express some of the best physical generalisations achieved in this branch of science. Thus understood, a minimal construal of laws suggests that they are in principle intended to refer to those features of phenomena whose salience and stability are relevant for specific scientific tasks. 


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Biografia do Autor

Cristian Soto, Departamento de Filosofía, Universidad de Chile

Profesor, Departamento de Filosofía, Universidad de Chile. Ph.D. in Philosophy (Philosophy of Science), University of Melbourne