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What Everyone Should Say about Symmetries (and How Humeans Get to Say It)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


The laws of nature have an internal explanatory structure. This leads to interesting questions for metaphysicians of laws. What is the nature of this explanation? Marc Lange has recently argued in favor of metalaws: higher-order laws governing other laws, of which symmetry principles may be an example. Lange argues that his view, unlike its competitors, can make sense of the explanatory power of symmetries. I agree with Lange about the explanatory structure of laws but disagree with him about the nature of this explanation. I then present a Humean view that neatly captures the explanatory power of symmetry principles.

Physical Sciences
Philosophy of Science , Volume 86 , Issue 5 , December 2019 , pp. 1284 - 1294
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Thanks to Harjit Bhogal, Harvey Brown, Chris Dorst, Toby Friend, Andreas Hüttemann, Siegfried Jaag, Christian Loew, Casey McCoy, and audiences at the University of Cologne, he University of Bristol, the University of Oxford, the 4th Society for the Metaphysics of Science Conference, and the Formal Methods and Science in Philosophy II conference for very helpful discussion of this article.


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