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Logic and Philosophy of Science Group Talk (Nina Emery, Mount Holyoke)

Thursday March 11, 2021, 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

The Logic and Philosophy of Science Group is pleased to welcome guest speaker Nina Emery, an assistant professor in the Department of Philosophy at Mount Holyoke College. Dr. Emery’s research focuses on the intersection of metaphysics and the philosophy of physics. She has a particular interest in the question of how and to what extent our best scientific theories, especially quantum mechanics and relativity theory, should inform our understanding of time, probability, and the laws of nature. She also works on the question of how and to what extent standard scientific practice relies on appeals to extra-empirical theoretical virtues such as simplicity and explanatory power. Her other interests include the philosophy of language, the philosophy of religion, epistemology, and applied ethics.

Talk Title

The Governing Conception of Laws

Talk Abstract

In her paper, “The Non-Governing Conception of Laws,” Helen Beebee argues that it is not a conceptual truth that laws of nature govern, and thus that one need not insist on a metaphysical account of laws that makes sense of their governing role. I agree with the first point but not the second. Although it is not a conceptual truth, the fact that laws govern follows straightforwardly from an important (though underappreciated) principle of scientific theory choice combined with a highly plausible claim about the connection between scientific theory choice and theory choice in metaphysics. I present and defend this argument and discuss three options for how to understand the governance relation that fit naturally with this approach. Along the way, if there’s time, I’ll show how my argument gives rise to an especially strong version of recent explanatory circularity arguments against Humeanism about laws of nature, and also say a bit about how this approach to the metaphysics of laws inspires a relatively underdeveloped view about quantum ontology.

About the Logic and Philosophy of Science Group

One of five departmental Research Interest Groups, the Logic and Philosophy of Science Group hosts talks on logic, general philosophy of science, and philosophy of the particular sciences, as well as talks in allied areas such as formal epistemology, decision theory, and the metaphysics of science.



Thursday March 11, 2021
3:00 pm - 5:00 pm
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Logic and Philosophy of Science Group
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