If there are fundamental laws of nature, can they fail to be exact? In this paper, I consider the possibility that some fundamental laws are vague. I call this phenomenon fundamental nomic vagueness. I characterize fundamental nomic vagueness as the existence of borderline lawful worlds and the presence of several other accompanying features. Under certain assumptions, such vagueness prevents the fundamental physical theory from being completely expressible in the mathematical language. Moreover, I suggest that such vagueness can be regarded as vagueness in the world. For a case study, we turn to the Past Hypothesis, a postulate that (partially) explains the direction of time in our world. We have reasons to take it seriously as a candidate fundamental law of nature. Yet it is vague: it admits borderline (nomologically) possible worlds. An exact version would lead to an untraceable arbitrariness absent in any other fundamental laws. However, the dilemma between fundamental nomic vagueness and untraceable arbitrariness is dissolved in a new quantum theory of time’s arrow.
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Research Article| January 01 2022
Fundamental Nomic Vagueness
Eddy Keming Chen
The Philosophical Review (2022) 131 (1): 1–49.
Eddy Keming Chen; Fundamental Nomic Vagueness. The Philosophical Review 1 January 2022; 131 (1): 1–49. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00318108-9415127
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