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Laws and Lawmakers Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature$
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Marc Lange

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195328134

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195328134.001.0001

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Natural Necessity

Natural Necessity

(p.45) 2 Natural Necessity
Laws and Lawmakers Science, Metaphysics, and the Laws of Nature

Marc Lange (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Natural necessity is analyzed in terms of “sub-nomic stability” (introduced in Chapter 1). The various species of necessity correspond to the various nonmaximal sets possessing sub-nomic stability. This approach explains what natural necessity has in common with other varieties of necessity by virtue of which they all qualify as varieties of the same thing. Necessities relative to some arbitrary class of facts (merely relative necessities) are thereby distinguished from genuine varieties of necessity (contrary to David Lewis's account of “must”). Different strata of natural law possess different grades of natural necessity. This approach explains what makes one variety of necessity “stronger” than another. Indeed, this approach explains why all varieties of necessity have characteristic places in a single, well-defined ordering from strongest to weakest. It is thus shown how natural laws can be genuinely necessary despite being contingent.

Keywords:   necessity, modality, physical necessity, natural necessity, relative necessity, accidents, laws, laws of nature, counterfactuals, David Lewis

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