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Title: In defence of a scientific essentialist account of natural law
Author: Kimpton-Nye, Samuel
ISNI:       0000 0004 5918 721X
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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Some argue that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary (e.g. Ellis, 2001, 2002 and Bird 2007). By endowing the laws with metaphysical necessity it is hoped that a scientific essentialist metaphysic will succeed where neo-Humean contingentist accounts of natural law failed by, for example, explaining lawful counterfactual support. I argue that the most robust account of the metaphysical necessity of the laws requires that i) kind membership is born essentially and ii) that alien kinds are impossible. Without i) and ii), a scientific essentialist account of laws risks succumbing to many of the same criticisms leveled at the neo-Humean account. I argue that the scientific essentialist can maintain i) and ii) in a principled manner, consistent with their motivations and in line with the strictures of philosophical naturalism. The conjunction of scientific essentialism and ii) implies that all possible worlds are identical with respect to their laws. This result is a positive because it dispels the mystery of metaphysical possibility by assimilating the epistemology of modality to familiar scientific epistemology.
Supervisor: Papineau, David Calder ; Knox, Eleanor ; Hughes, Christopher Mark Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available