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Humean Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science

Duguid, Callum James (2017) Humean Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Humeanism is often taken to be a prime example of metaphysics which has failed to be sufficient attention to contemporary science. I argue that these claims have been made too hastily: there are moves available to Humeans which bring the account closer to scientific practice while still preserving the spirit of the view. The thesis comprises two parts. In the first half, I deal with the Best System Account of laws, and consider how it ought to treat initial conditions. From there, I turn to the question of whether Humean laws can explain events. This has recently been a topic of renewed interest in the literature and I disentangle the various claims philosophers have made on behalf of Humeanism. From these, I identify three promising responses to the argument that Humean explanations are circular. In the second half of the thesis, I consider how the Humean approach to laws can be extended to cover symmetry principles when the latter are understood as laws of laws. In response to a problem concerning properties and language, I suggest that the account go language-relative. The result of this is a regularity-based approach that can incorporate both laws and their symmetries into a single unified framework. Finally, I draw upon some examples from biology to indicate how the account can deal with the special sciences.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Metaphysics, Philosophy of Science, Humeanism, Laws, Naturalism, Fundamentality
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.727199
Depositing User: Mr Callum Duguid
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2017 10:33
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:56
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18464

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