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The World Essence

  • John Bigelow (a1)

Recently, Brian Ellis came up with a neat and novel idea about laws of nature, which at first I misunderstood. Then I participated, with Brian Ellis and Caroline Lierse, in writing a joint paper, “The World as One of a Kind: Natural Necessity and Laws of Nature” (Ellis, Bigelow and Lierse, forthcoming). In this paper, the Ellis idea was formulated in a different way from that in which I had originally interpreted it. Little weight was placed on possible worlds or individual essences. Much weight rested on natural kinds. I thought Ellis to be suggesting that laws of nature attribute essential properties to one grand individual, The World. In fact, Ellis is hostile towards individual essences for any individuals at all, including The World. He is comfortable only with essential properties of kinds, rather than individuals. The Ellis conjecture was that laws of nature attribute essential properties to the natural kind of which the actual world is one (and presumably the only) member.

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D. M. Armstrong 1983 What is a Law of Nature? Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

F. I. Dretske 1977Laws of Nature.Philosophy of Science, 44:248268.

D. K. Lewis 1968Counterpart Theory and Quantified Modal Logic.” Journal of Philosophy, 65:113126.

R.J. Pargetter 1984Laws and Modal Realism.” Philosophical Studies, 46:335347.

R. Stalnaker 1976Possible Worlds.” Nous, 10:6575.

M. Tooley 1977The Nature of Laws.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 7:667698.

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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