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Physical Constants as Identifiers of Modern Universal Laws of Nature

In: Organon F, vol. 27, no. 3
Orli Dahan


Year, pages: 2020, 325 - 345
Language: eng
Law of nature; universal law; particular law; physical con- stant; ceteris-paribus generalization; strict generalizations.
Article type: Research Article
About article:
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 ap- pears 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 am- biguity in the use (and the absence) of the concept ‘law’ in contemporary science. Second, it can help in distinguishing between a uni- versal 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.
How to cite:
ISO 690:
Dahan, O. 2020. Physical Constants as Identifiers of Modern Universal Laws of Nature. In Organon F, vol. 27, no.3, pp. 325-345. 1335-0668. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2020.27303

Dahan, O. (2020). Physical Constants as Identifiers of Modern Universal Laws of Nature. Organon F, 27(3), 325-345. 1335-0668. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31577/orgf.2020.27303
About edition:
Publisher: Filozofický ústav SAV, Filosofický ústav AVČR
Published: 6. 8. 2020
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.