Sungwon Woo
University of Maryland
An Impossibility result for the Best System Account

I show an impossibility result for the Best System Analysis (BSA) of laws of nature. According the BSA, laws are regularities in the best system maximizing scientific virtues of simplicity, strength, and accuracy. Drawing on the famous impossibility theorem in social choice theory, I will argue that there cannot exist a coherent procedure of determining the best system. I will show that the conditions of this impossibility result cannot be abandoned in the case of system choice. Some escapes from the similar impossibility result have been suggested in the literature on scientific theory choice, but I show that they are not available for system choice mainly due to the epistemological and metaphysical gaps between theory choice and system choice. The impossibility result will be a serious challenge to the BSA as a philosophical analysis.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

KEY 0103