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Organon F

Volume 27, August 2020, Issue 3, Pages 325–345

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article

Physical Constants as Identifiers of Modern Universal Laws of Nature

Orli Dahan

https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2020.27303 

Abstract

I argue that in modern algebraic-formulated science the ‘physical constant’ can be understood, for practical purposes, as an ‘identifier’ of a universal law of nature. This identifying role is possible because the concept of ‘physical constant’ fulfills the same need for universality, stability, and fundamentality (as universal laws) for increasing the epistemic value of a scientific theory. This can be demonstrated in two different ways. The first involves a thought experiment envisioning science without physical constants, which appears to be a science of local and particular laws. The second is the observation that physical constants mostly emerge as components in an algebraic formulation of universal laws, but not in the algebraic formulation of particular laws. This observation about the link between physical constants and universal laws of nature, if correct, makes two contributions. First, it clarifies, at least partially, the ambiguity in the use (and the absence) of the concept ‘law’ in contemporary science. Second, it can help in distinguishing between a universal law and a particular law, while avoiding one of the abiding philosophical problems regarding laws of nature—the problem of the ceteris-paribus criterion for a generalization.

Keywords

Law of nature; universal law; particular law; physical constant; ceteris-paribus generalization; strict generalizations.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)

Author

Orli Dahan

Affiliation

Tel-Hai College

Address

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tel-Hai College, Upper Galilee, 12208, Israel

E-mail

orlydah@telhai.ac.il 

About this article

Received

18 January 2019

Accepted

3 December 2019

Published online

20 December 2019

Publishers

Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as

APA

Dahan, O. (2020). Physical Constants as Identifiers of Modern Universal Laws of Nature. Organon F27(3), 325–345. https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2020.27303

Chicago

Dahan, Orli. 2020. "Physical Constants as Identifiers of Modern Universal Laws of Nature." Organon F 27 (3): 325–345. https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2020.27303 

Harvard

Dahan, O.  (2020). Physical Constants as Identifiers of Modern Universal Laws of Nature. Organon F, 27(3), pp. 325–345. https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2020.27303

Copyright information

© Orli Dahan

Response page

https://www.sav.sk/index.php?lang=sk&doc=journal-list&part=article_response_page&journal_article_no=18674

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This article is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Public License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


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