more from Alexander Bird

Single Idea 6743

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 4. Regularities / a. Regularity theory]

Full Idea

For the simple regularity theorist, the function ought to be a gappy one, leaving out values not actually instantiated; …one function would fit the actual points on the graph as well as any other.

Gist of Idea

If laws are just instances, the law should either have gaps, or join the instances arbitrarily


Alexander Bird (Philosophy of Science [1998], Ch.1)

Book Reference

Bird,Alexander: 'Philosophy of Science' [UCL Press 2000], p.32

A Reaction

The 'simple' theorist says there is nothing more to a law than its instances. Clearly Bird is right; if the points line up, we join them with a straight line, making counterfactual assumptions about points which were not actually observed.