Rethinking Order After the Laws of Nature

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2016-06-30
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic
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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


This book presents a radical new picture of natural order. The Newtonian idea of a cosmos ruled by universal and exceptionless laws has been superseded; replaced by a conception of nature as a realm of diverse powers, potencies, and dispositions, a 'dappled world'. There is order in nature, but it is more local, diverse, piecemeal, open, and emergent than Newton imagined.

In each chapter expert authors expound the historical context of the idea of laws of nature, and explore the diverse sorts of order actually presupposed by work in physics, biology, and the social sciences. They consider how human freedom might be understood, and explore how Newton's idea of a 'universal designer' might be revised, in this new context.

They argue that there is not one unified totalizing program of science, aiming at the completion of one closed causal system. We live in an ordered universe, but we need to rethink the classical idea of the 'laws of nature' in a more dynamic and creatively diverse way.

Author Biography

Nancy Cartwright is Professor of Philosophy both at the University of Durham, UK and the University of California, San Diego, USA. She is former president of the Philosophy of Science Association, a MacArthur fellow and Fellow of the British Academy. She has authored several books, including Hunting Causes and Using Them (2007), and Philosophy of Social Science: A New Introduction, with Eleonora Montuschi (2014).

Keith Ward is a Professorial Fellow at Heythrop College, UK. He was ordained Priest of the Church of England in 1972. He has published numerous books, including Rational Theology and the Creativity of God (1984) and Comparative Theology in 5 volumes (1994-2000 and 2008).

Table of Contents


INTRODUCTION Keith Ward (Heythrop College)


SECTION 1. The Historical and Philosophical Setting
1.1 The Rise and Fall of Laws of Nature, Eric Watkins (University of California, San Diego)
1.2 The Dethronement of Laws in Science, Nancy Cartwright (University of Durham and University of California, San Diego)

SECTION 2. New Modes of Order in the Natural and Social Sciences

2.1 Physics – From Order to Chaos and Back Again, Robert C. Bishop (Wheaton College) and Roman Frigg (London School of Economics)
2.2 Biology – Multiple Orders in Biology, Eric Martin (Baylor University) and William Bechtel (University of California, San Diego)
2.3 Social Science – The Making and Maintenance of Social Order, Eleonora Montuschi (University of Venice and London School of Economics) and Rom Harre (London School of Economics)

SECTION 3. Free Will after the Laws of Nature

3.1 Freedom and the Causal Order, T.J. Mawson (St Peter's College, Oxford University)
3.2 From Laws to Powers, Steven Horst (Wesleyan University)

SECTION 4. Divine Order

4.1 Of God(s) and Natural Order, Keith Ward (Heythrop College)
4.2 God: Out of Order, Russell ReManning (University of Aberdeen)

CONCLUSION Nancy Cartwright (University of Durham and University of California, San Diego)


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