Nina Emery: The Governing Conception of Laws

Nina Emery (Holyoke)

4:30-6:30pm Monday April 8; NYU, 194 Mercer, room 203.

Title: The Governing Conception of Laws

Abstract: In her paper, “The Non-Governing Conception of Laws,” Helen Beebee argues that it is not a conceptual truth that laws of nature govern their instances, and that this fact insulates Humeans about laws of nature from some of the most pressing objections against their view. I agree with the first claim, but not the second. For although it is not a conceptual truth that laws govern, the view that laws govern follows straightforwardly from an important, though under-appreciated, principle that constrains scientific theory choice, and the principles that constrain scientific theory choice ought to constrain theory choice in metaphysics as well. I then show how the specific understanding of governance that plays a role in this argument raises serious concerns for Humeans about laws of nature.

There will be dinner after the talk. If you are interested, please send an email with `Dinner’ in the heading to (please note that all are welcome, but only the speaker’s dinner will be covered). If you have any other questions, please email

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