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What Do the “Laws of Nature” Actually Explain?

To what extent does the phrase simply stand in for an explanation?

The question of what the “laws of nature” actually explain is worth asking when we consider the way the term is sometimes used. Norwegian philosopher Daniel Joachim Kleiven points to an example in The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking (1942–2018) and Leonard Mlodinow: They argue that the history of science can be summarized as “the long process of replacing the notion of the reign of gods with the concept of a universe that is governed by laws of nature.” But, Kleiven (pictured) probes, what is the precise nature of the change we are asked to applaud? He quotes the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889–1951), who specialized in mathematics and logic: At the basis of the whole modern view of the world Read More ›