Humeanism and laws of nature: scope and limits




modality, supervenience, best system, necessity, contingency


Nomological Humeanism has developed into a research program encompassing several variations on a single theme, namely, the view that laws are statements about regularities that we find in nature. After briefly revisiting an early form of nomological Humeanism in Hume’s critique of the idea of necessary connection, this article critically examines Lewis’ two-fold approach based on Humean supervenience and the best system account. We shall point out three limits of nomological Humeanism, which are widely recognized in the literature: its inadequacy in view of physical theories, its explanatory circularity, and its purported anthropomorphism, all of which advocates of nomological Humeanism have attempted to overcome Humeanism (Jaag y Loew 2020, Loewer 2004 y Massimi 2018). Lastly, we will argue that nomological Humeanism fails to provide a suitable notion of modality for laws of nature. This latter issue continues to represent a live challenge for empiricism in the philosophy of physical laws.

Author Biography

Cristián Soto, Departamento de Filosofía, Universidad de Chile

Cristián Soto obtuvo su doctorado en filosofía en la Universidad de Melbourne, Australia (mayo 2016), bajo la supervisión del Prof. Dr.Howard Sankey (Universidad de Melbourne), con la Prof. Dra. Dana Goswick (Universidad de Melbourne), el Prof. Dr. James Ladyman(Universidad de Bristol) y el Prof. D. Stathis Psillos (Universidad de Atenas) en el comité de doctorado. Su trabajo se concentra en filosofía de las ciencias y metafísica, particularmente metafísica de las ciencias, leyes de la naturaleza, realismo científico, pluralismo científico, empirismo y algunos argumentos en filosofía de las matemáticas. Anteriormente (2008-2011), el Dr. Soto ha trabajado y publicado sobre pragmatismo clásico norteamericano (1870-1930) y filosofía natural de los siglos XVI-XVIII, supervisandotesis de pre y posgrado en estos temas. Obtuvo una estadía de investigación en el Centro de Filosofía de las Ciencias, Universidad de Pittsburgh, EE. UU (2020), que tuvo que ser cancelada debido a la pandemia del SARS-COV-2. Además, ha sido investigador visitante del Departamento de Filosofía, Universidad de Miami, EE. UU.; del Centro de Filosofía de las Ciencias Naturales y Sociales, LSE, Inglaterra; y del Centro de Filosofía Matemática de Múnich, LMU, Alemania. Es miembro fundador y ex-presidente (2016-2020) de la Sociedad Chilena de Filosofía de las Ciencias; director del Grupo de Estudios de Filosofía de las Ciencias de la Universidad de Chile; y coordinador del Magister en Filosofía de la Universidad de Chile.


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How to Cite

Soto, C. (2021). Humeanism and laws of nature: scope and limits. Revista De Humanidades De Valparaíso, (17), 145–167.




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