The “Constant” Threat to the Dispositional Essentialist Conception of Laws

Vassilios Livanios 1
  • 1 Department of Philosophy and History of Science, University of Athens, Xanthou 62, 16674 Glyfada, Greece
Vassilios Livanios

Abstract

According to the dispositional essentialist account of laws of nature, the latter express the dispositional nature of fundamental natural properties. In this paper I discuss the difficulty that the existence of fundamental constants of nature raises for that account. To this end, I examine a relevant argument against the account and describe how an advocate of the dispositionalist conception may try to undermine it by raising objections to its premises. Then I discuss those objections and show that eventually all fail. I finally conclude that the existence of the fundamental constants remains a “constant” threat to the dispositional essentialist conception of laws.

  • Adams, F. 2008. “Stars in Other Universes: Stellar Structure with Different Fundamental Constants.” Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics 08:0810.

    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Armstrong, D. M. 1997. A World of States of Affairs. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Barrow, J. 2002. The Constants of Nature: From Alpha to Omega-the Numbers That Encode the Deepest Secrets of the Universe. New York: Pantheon Books.

    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Barrow, J., and F. Tipler. 1986. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Bird, A. 2002. “On Whether Some Laws Are Necessary.” Analysis 62.3:25770.

  • Bird, A. 2007. Nature’s Metaphysics. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Bird, A. 2012. “Monistic Dispositional Essentialism.” In Properties, Powers and Structures, edited by A. Bird, B. Ellis, and H. Sankey, 3541. New York: Routledge.

    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Carr, B. (ed.).2007. Universe or Multiverse. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Cohen-Tannoutji, G. 2009. “Universal Constants, Standard Models and Fundamental Metrology.” European Physical Journal (Special Topics) 172:524.

    • Crossref
    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Duff, M. J. 2004. “Comment on the Time-Variation of Fundamental Constants.” arXiv:hep-th/0208093v3 (11 July 2004).

    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Duff, M. J., L. B. Okun, and G. Veneziano. 2002. “Trialogue on the Number of Fundamental Constants.” Journal of High Energy Physics 03(2002):023. Also in arXiv:physics/0110060v2 [physics.class-ph] (28 Feb 2002).

    • Crossref
    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Ellis, G. F. R. 1979. “The Homogeneity of the Universe.” General Relativity and Gravitation 11(4):2819.

  • Ellis, B. 2005. “Katzav on the Limitations of Dispositionalism.” Analysis 65(1):902.

  • Guth, A. 1981. “Inflationary Universe: A Possible Solution to the Horizon and Flatness Problem.” Physical Review D 23:34756.

    • Crossref
    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Harnik, R., G. Kribs, and G. Perez. 2006. “A Universe without Weak Interaction.” Physical Review D 74(3):035006.

  • Katzav, J. 2004. “Dispositions and the Principle of Least Action.” Analysis 64(3):20614.

  • Levy-Leblond, J. M. 1979. “The Importance of Being (a) Constant.” In Problems in the Foundations of Physics, edited by G. Torraldi, 237. Enrico Fermi School LXXII, Amsterdam: North-Holland Publ.

    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Linde, A. D. 1986. “Eternally Existing Self-Reproducing Chaotic Inflationary Universe.” Physics Letters B 175(4):395400.

    • Crossref
    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Livanios, V. 2008. “Bird and the Dispositional Essentialist Account of Spatiotemporal Relations.” Journal for General Philosophy of Science 39(2):38394.

    • Crossref
    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Livanios, V. 2010. “Symmetries, Dispositions and Essences.” Philosophical Studies 148(2):295305.

  • Martin, C. B. 2008. The Mind in Nature. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Misner, C., K. Thorne, and J. A. Wheeler. 1973. Gravitation. San Francisco, CA: W.H. Freeman.

  • Moffat, J. W. 2002. “Comment on the Variation of Fundamental Constants.” arXiv: hep-th/0208109v2 (7 Nov 2002).

    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Rees, M. 1999. Just Six Numbers. New York: Basic Books.

  • Smolin, L. 1997. The Life of the Cosmos. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Smolin, L. 2006. The Trouble with Physics: The Rise of String Theory, the Fall of a Science and What Comes Next. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co.

    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stenger, V. 2004. “Is the Universe Fine-Tuned for Us?” In Why Intelligent Design Fails: A Scientific Critique of the New Creationism, edited by M. Young and T. Edis, 17284. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Tegmark, M., A. Aguirre, M. J. Rees, and F. Wilczek. 2006. “Dimensionless Constants, Cosmology, and Other Dark Matters.” Physical Review D 73(2):023505.

    • Crossref
    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Uzan, J. P. 2002. “The Fundamental Constants and Their Variation: Observational Status and Theoretical Motivations.” Reviews of Modern Physics 75(2):40355. Also in arXiv:hep-ph/0205340v1(30 May 2002).

    • Crossref
    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Uzan, J. P., and B. Leclercq. 2008. The Natural Laws of the Universe: Understanding Fundamental Constants. Chichester, UK: Praxis Publishing.

    • Crossref
    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Vilenkin, A. 1983. “Birth of Inflationary Universes.” Physical Review D 27:284855.

  • Weinberg, S. 1992. Dreams of a Final Theory. New York: Pantheon Books.

  • Weinberg, S., H. B. Nielsen, and J. G. Taylor. 1983. “Overview of Theoretical Prospects for Understanding the Values of Fundamental Constants.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London A 310:24952.

    • Crossref
    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wheeler, J. A. 1974. “Beyond the End of Time.” In Black Holes, Gravitational Waves and Cosmology, edited by M. Rees, R. Ruffini, and A. J. Wheeler. New York: Gordon and Breach.

    • Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Wilczek, F. 2007. “Fundamental Constants.” arXiv: 0708.4361v1 [hep-ph] (31 Aug 2007).

  • Zwiebach, B. 2009. A First Course in String Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Purchase article
Get instant unlimited access to the article.
$42.00
Log in
Already have access? Please log in.


or
Log in with your institution

Journal + Issues

Search