Dr. Michael Hicks | University of Glasgow

Michael Hicks is a Lecturer in Philosophy of Science and Technology at Glasgow University. He is mostly interested in the ways we use scientific laws and models to understand what is possible, and what is not.

Title | 'Meta-explanatory Pragmatic Realism: Laws of Nature and Beyond'

Abstract:

I present and defend a pragmatic account of natural modality, according to which features of human agents and investigators partially explain which facts are nomically necessary. According to the account, the laws of nature are determined by explicitly non-pragmatic desiderata: desiderata which do not involve agents or investigation. However, pragmatic facts determine the first-order desiderata, and so feature in a higher-level explanation of natural necessity. I argue that the account is robustly realist, as distinct from expressivist accounts such as that of Thomasson (2020). I further argue that it is a distinctive form of metaphysical pragmatism, in contrast to more robustly realist proposals such as that of Bird (2007) or Vetter (2016). I conclude with an exploratory discussion of the prospects of metaexplanatory pragmatic realism in other normative domains, including metaethics and epistemology.