Idealization and the Laws of Nature

  • Billy Wheeler

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Philosophy book series (BRIEFSPHILOSOPH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Billy Wheeler
    Pages 29-51
  3. Billy Wheeler
    Pages 53-77
  4. Billy Wheeler
    Pages 79-109

About this book


This new study provides a refreshing look at the issue of exceptions and shows that much of the problem stems from a failure to recognize at least two kinds of exception-ridden law: ceteris paribus laws and ideal laws. Billy Wheeler offers the first book-length discussion of ideal laws. The key difference between these two kinds of laws concerns the nature of the conditions that need to be satisfied and their epistemological role in the law’s formulation and discovery. He presents a Humean-inspired approach that draws heavily on concepts from the information and computing sciences. Specifically, Wheeler argues that laws are best seen as algorithms for compressing empirical data and that ideal laws are needed as 'lossy compressors' for complex data.

Major figures in the metaphysics of science receive special attention such as Ronald Giere, Bas van Fraassen, Nancy Cartwright, David Lewis and Marc Lange. This book is essential reading for philosophers of science and will interest metaphysicians, epistemologists and others interested in applying concepts from computing to traditional philosophical problems.


Laws of Nature Ceteris Paribus Laws Humean Supervenience Best System Account Ideal Laws Fictions in Science Kolmogorov Complexity Lossy Compression

Authors and affiliations

  • Billy Wheeler
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySun Yat-Sen UniversityZhuhaiChina

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG, part of Springer Nature 2018
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-99563-2
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-99564-9
  • Series Print ISSN 2211-4548
  • Series Online ISSN 2211-4556
  • Buy this book on publisher's site