The Contingency of Physical Laws

Ferenc Huoranszki


The purpose of this paper is to explain the sense in which laws of physics are contingent. It argues, first, that contemporary Humean accounts cannot adequately explain the contingency of physical laws; and second, that Hume’s own arguments against the metaphysical necessity of causal connections are not applicable in this context. The paper concludes by arguing that contingency is an essentially emergent, macroscopic phenomenon: we can understand the contingency of fundamental physical laws only through their relation to the distribution of macroscopic modal properties in the manifest world.


Physical laws; Natural properties; Dispositions; Contingency; Fundamentality

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Principia: an internationnal journal of epistemology
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