Philosophical Studies

, Volume 164, Issue 3, pp 653–667 | Cite as

Schaffer on laws of nature

  • Alastair Wilson


In ‘Quiddistic Knowledge’ (Schaffer in Philos Stud 123:1–32, 2005), Jonathan Schaffer argued influentially against the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. In this reply I aim to show how a coherent and well-motivated form of necessitarianism can withstand his critique. Modal necessitarianism—the view that the actual laws are the laws of all possible worlds—can do justice to some intuitive motivations for necessitarianism, and it has the resources to respond to all of Schaffer’s objections. It also has certain advantages over contingentism in the domain of modal epistemology. I conclude that necessitarianism about laws remains a live option.


Law Property Necessitarianism Modality Determinism Indeterminism Schaffer Counterfactuals 



Discussions with Toby Handfield triggered the writing of this paper; he also made many useful suggestions for improvement. An early version was presented at a Monash work-in-progress seminar, and at an ANU metaphysics workshop in Kioloa. My thanks go to these audiences for their feedback, and in particular to Alexander Bird, Antony Eagle and Jonathan Schaffer for their patient and constructive comments. I am also grateful to an anonymous referee for this journal.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyMonash UniversityMelbourneAustralia

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