[OPE-L:136] Nature of laws

Paul Cockshott (wpc@clyder.gn.apc.org)
Mon, 25 Sep 1995 14:54:29 -0700

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Gil argues that the practice of drawing scientific laws
from empirical observations is falacious and was abandoned
post the 18th century.

I find this very questionable. It is true that in this
century the practice of formulating theories as laws
has fallen into disuse, but this is more a matter of
terminology than of substance. Secondly many of the
laws established 18th century by empirical observation
have passed the test of time - Hooks law, the gas laws
etc. It may be argued that the gas laws, though true,
do not yet get to the heart of the matter, which
had to wait for Boltzmann's work at the end of the
last century, but that is no criticism of the practice
of establishing laws from empirical evidence.
It is only to the extent that one is able to establish
that the world has lawlike regularities that one
is able to focus one's attention on trying to
discover the underlying causes of these laws.

I think that with value theory we are at a stage
analogous to gas theory prior to Boltzmann, though
Farjoun and Machover may be our Boltzmann.