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Is the world really 'dappled'? A response to Cartwright's charge against "cross-wise" reduction"

Abstract : Nancy Cartwright's charge against horizontal reductionism leads to a claim about how the world is, namely “dappled.” By proposing a simple thought-experiment, I show that Cartwright's division of the world into “nomological” machines and “messy” systems for which no law applies is meaningless. The thought-experiment shows that for a system, having the property of being a nomological machine depends on what kind of questions you ask about it. No metaphysical conclusion about the world being unruly or not can be drawn from a division that is question-dependent. Moreover, I argue that this predicament undermines Cartwright's attempt to provide an illustration of how bad metaphysics of science translates into bad scientific methodologies and policies.
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Contributor : Stéphanie Ruphy <>
Submitted on : Saturday, January 17, 2009 - 6:25:51 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, March 21, 2019 - 4:25:22 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-00353978, version 1



Stéphanie Ruphy. Is the world really 'dappled'? A response to Cartwright's charge against "cross-wise" reduction". Philosophy of Science, University of Chicago Press, 2003, 70, pp.57-67. ⟨halshs-00353978⟩



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