The Metaphysics of Science-1

An Account of Modern Science in Terms of Principles, Laws and Theories

  • Craig Dilworth

Part of the Boston Studies in The Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 173)

About this book


The roots of this work lie in my earlier book, Scientific Progress, which first appeared in 1981. One of its topics, the distinction - tween scientific laws and theories, is there treated with reference to the same distinction as drawn by N. R. Campbell in his Physics: The Elements. Shortly after completing Scientific Progress, I read Rom Harré’s The Principles of Scientific Thinking, in which the concept of theory is even more clearly delineated than in Campbell, being directly connected to the notion of a model – as it was in my book. In subsequent considerations regarding science, Harré’s work thus - came my main source of inspiration with regard to theories, while Campbell’s remained my main source with respect to empirical laws. Around the same time I also read William Whewell’s Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences. In this work, Whewell depicts principles as playing a central role in the formation of science, and conceives of them in much the same way as Kant conceives of fundamental synthetic a priori judgements. The idea that science should have principles as a basic element immediately made sense to me, and from that time I have thought of science in terms of laws, theories and principles.


Laws Principles Theories evolution experience knowledge metaphysics philosophy of science probability reduction science

Authors and affiliations

  • Craig Dilworth
    • 1
  1. 1.Uppsala University

Bibliographic information