Can Laws of Nature be Categorical Properties?


A well-known difficulty that affects Armstrong’s account of laws of nature as higher-order facts involving relations between universals is the Inference Problem: how can laws construed in that way determine the first-order regularities that we find in the actual world? Alexander Bird (2005) has argued that there is no solution to the Inference Problem which is consistent with both categorical monism (that is, the view that all natural properties are categorical) and basic tenets of Armstrong’s account of the laws of nature. In this talk I will show that, given Armstrong’s mature view about laws as first-order structural universals whose instantiation ‘produce’ nomic regularities, there is no extra difficulty regarding the Inference Problem in a categorical monistic context besides the ones that beset structural universals in general. I will also defend (on behalf of the DTA proponents) an essentialist explanation of the necessary relation between a law-structural universal and its corresponding regularity. My overall conclusion is that Bird’s challenge, even construed as a demand for a metaphysical explanation of the fact that raises the Inference Problem, can eventually be met.


June 20th / 18:00 / Aula Magna