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A Theory for Special Science Laws

This paper explores whether it is possible to reformulate Lewis’s theory of fundamental laws of nature—his “best system analysis”—in such a way that it becomes a useful theory for special science laws.

One major step in this enterprise is to make plausible how law candidates within best system competitions can tolerate exceptions. This is crucial because we expect special science laws to be so called “ceteris paribus laws”. I attempt to show how it is possible. Thereby, a solution to the infamous difficulties surrounding the troublesome ceteris paribus clause will be offered.

The paper is written in an non-reductionist spirit while Lewis’s original idea about laws is part of his neo-Humean supervenience programme. Therefore, some friction results when in comes to the status of special science properties. To resolve the tension, the paper engages into a discussion about the unity or disunity, hierarchy or equality of the sciences and the naturalness of their properties.