Metaphysics, laws, and natural kinds: Minimalist approaches

Stephen Mumford and Matthew Tugby (eds): Metaphysics and science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, vii+244pp, £40 HB

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    Note that Mumford (2012) examined the relationship between metaphysics and science. His views consistently favour the development of a maximalist metaphysics of science over a minimalist one. However, his distinction between armchair metaphysics and metaphysics of science becomes inevitably blurry. He claims, for instance, that a priori analytic metaphysicians believe that metaphysical theorising goes deeper than any other science in the knowledge of reality by merely exercising a priori reasoning. According to him, philosophers in this tradition address problems such as the nature of “substances, properties, changes, causes, possibilities, time, personal identity, nothingness, and emergence” (2012, p. 1). It suffices to say this in order to make my point clear: metaphysicians in this tradition endorse the view that the epistemic success of metaphysics goes beyond the achievement of empirical and theoretical scientific research, even though the history of both modern science and metaphysics deliver a good deal evidence for the contrary.

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    This is a very insightful remark, since most traditional philosophical accounts of laws have overlooked this feature of scientific laws. There are, however, in the literature some brilliant exceptions, like Smart’s (1985) cosmic coincidence approach to laws.


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Soto, C. Metaphysics, laws, and natural kinds: Minimalist approaches. Metascience 24, 321–331 (2015).

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