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Nature's Challenge to Free Will$
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Bernard Berofsky

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199640010

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199640010.001.0001

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The Unalterability of Laws and the Reductionist Strategy

The Unalterability of Laws and the Reductionist Strategy

(p.143) 8 The Unalterability of Laws and the Reductionist Strategy
Nature's Challenge to Free Will

Bernard Berofsky

Oxford University Press

The third premise of the consequence argument claims that laws are unalterable. The possibility that laws of psychology, such as those of decision theory, are not all self-evidently unalterable is raised. The existence of alterable nonlaws that support their corresponding counterfactuals is noted. The argument for unalterability based on conceptual considerations is rejected. The unalterability of laws may follow from the governance theory; but the regularity theory is a possible alternative interpretation. Although Mark Lange rejects the thesis that laws are alterable, his views actually lend support to the possibility that some laws are alterable. Even the thesis that all physical laws are unalterable is open to challenge. If the consequence argument restricts laws to the unalterable basic laws of physics, the argument will fail because laws in other sciences cannot all be reduced to basic physical laws.

Keywords:   consequence argument, unalterability, governance theory, regularity theory, psychological laws, decision theory, basic physical laws, Lange

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