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Laws and Symmetry$
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Bas C. van Fraassen

Print publication date: 1989

Print ISBN-13: 9780198248606

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0198248601.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Laws and Symmetry

Bas C. van Fraassen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The historical role of the concept of a law of nature in medieval and early modern physics engendered a view of science as continuous with metaphysics, which has tended to dominate philosophy of nature and of science. Meanwhile, with the development of mathematical methods, the advanced sciences began to focus on the structural characteristics and constraints of models, now generally described in terms of symmetry. Simple historical examples illustrate this trend.

Keywords:   history of physics, law of nature, mathematical methods, metaphysics, modern physics, philosophy of science, symmetry

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