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Drewery, Alice. Essentialism and the Necessity of the Laws of Nature
2005, Synthese 144(3): 381-396.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez

Abstract: In this paper the author discusses and evaluates different arguments for the view that the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary. She conclude that essentialist arguments from the nature of natural kinds fail to establish that essences are ontologically more basic than laws, and fail to offer an a priori argument for the necessity of all causal laws. Similar considerations carry across to the argument from the dispositionalist view of properties, which may end up placing unreasonable constraints on property identity across possible worlds. None of her arguments preclude the possibility that the laws may turn out to be metaphysically necessary after all, but she argues that this can only be established by a posteriori scientific investigation. She argues for what may seem to be a surprising conclusion: that a fundamental metaphysical question – the modal status of laws of nature – depends on empirical facts rather than purely on a priori reasoning.

Comment: An excellent paper that could serve as further or specialized reading for postgraduate courses in philosophy of science, in particular, for modules related to the study of the laws of nature. The paper offers an in-depth discussion of essentialist arguments, but also touches upon many other fundamental concepts such as grounding, natural kinds, dispositions and necessity.

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Mitchell, Sandra. Complexity and explanation in the social sciences
2009, Mitchell, Sandra. "Complexity and explanation in the social sciences." Chrysostomos Mantzavinos (Hg.), Philosophy of the Social Sciences. Philosophical Theory and Scientific Practice, Cambridge (2009): 130-145.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Patricia Rich

Abstract: To answer Condorcet, in this chapter I will investigate what it is about the social world that makes the universal, exceptionless generalizations that are heralded as the foundation of knowledge of the physical world so elusive. I am not going to rehearse all the arguments for and against the possibility of laws in the social realm. What I aim to do is not to take either side of the debate, that is, not to say – “YES! Social science does have laws just like physics (or close enough any-way)” or “NO! Social science can never have laws like those of physics; knowledge of the social has a wholly different character.” Rather I will suggest replacing the standard conception of laws that structure the debate with a more spacious conceptual framework that not only illuminates what it is about knowledge of the social that is similar to knowledge of the physical, but also explains what is so different in the two scientific endeavors.

Comment: When studying the philosophy of the social sciences, the nature of explanation and the role of laws in explanation are important issues. This text provides a valuable argument on this topic, provides an example of how philosophy of biology is relevant to the social sciences, and brings in some other useful philosophical concepts.

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Morgan, Mary S.. The curious case of the prisoner’s dilemma: model situation? Exemplary narrative?”
2007, Science Without Laws: Model Systems, Cases, Exemplary Narratives. Science and cultural theory, ed. by Creager, Angela N. H., Lunbeck, Elizabeth, Norton Wise, M., Duke University Press, Durham, 157-185
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Added by: Björn Freter

Abstract: The Prisoner’s Dilemma game is one of the classic games discussed in game theory,  the  study  of  strategic  decision  making  in  situations  of conflict,  which  stretches  between  mathematics  and  the  social  sciences. Game theory was  primarily developed  during  the  late  1940s  and  into  the  1960s  at  a number of research sites funded by various arms of the U.S. military establishment as part of their Cold War research.

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