The Dispositionalist Conception of Laws Foundations of Science (forthcoming 2003)

ALEXANDER BIRD

Abstract

This paper sketches a dispositionalist conception of laws and shows how the dispositionalist should respond to certain objections. The view that properties are essentially dispositional is able to provides an account of laws that avoids the problems that face the two categoricalist views of laws (the regularity and the contingent nomic necessitation views). I discuss and reject the objections that (i) this view makes laws necessary whereas they are contingent; (ii) this view cannot account for the values of fundamental constants; and (iii) the equality between gravitational and inertial mass cannot be accounted for on this view.