scientific law

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scientific law

a statement of a uniform connection between empirical phenomena, to the effect that whenever and wherever conditions of a specified kind A occur, then so will certain conditions of another kind B. A law is a universal conditional statement of the form ‘For any A, if A, then B’. Thus scientific laws are more than statements of fact, they make counterfactual claims, for example, that ‘all water heated to 100 °C at sealevel and normal pressure will boil’. As well as deterministic laws of this type there are also probabilistic laws of the form, ‘For any A, if A, then a certain probability (less than 1 but more than 0) of B.

Laws may be empirical, theoretical, or idealized in form (compare IDEAL TYPE). The generalization achieved by scientific laws is often only possible by the formulation of laws in idealized form, e.g. involving such notions as ‘frictionless surfaces’ or ‘perfect gases’, with auxiliary assumptions being required for general laws to be applied to concrete cases.

On one view (see COVERING-LAW MODEL), the existence of laws is a central defining feature of science and scientific explanations. Competing conceptions of SCIENCE, however, give more central emphasis to explanatory mechanisms and EXPLANATORY THEORIES, which may involve scientific laws but need not do so (see also SCIENTIFIC REALISM).

References in periodicals archive ?
While the conventional wisdom has always been that reach drives business growth--specifically, the more people who know about a brand, the more customers it will have--not everyone is aware of the connection between this idea and an empirical law in marketing science known as "Double Jeopardy.
It is becoming ever more apparent that Horwitz's simultaneous pursuit of extreme mathematical rigor and utter aleatory openness--when most artists of her generation chose one of the above--constitutes a unique vision, a multilevel map charting the mysteriously coextensive realities of abstract rule and concrete instance, empirical law and lived experience.
For instance, the different theoretical explanations of Joseph Stefan's empirical law of the radiation of black bodies.
The same issue of the History of Economic Ideas also includes translations of: (i) Pareto's 1896 University of Lausanne paper on 'The Curve of the Distribution of Wealth' which built on an earlier Giornale degli Economisti article on demand to introduce his empirical law of income distribution; and (ii) Pareto's 1902 German Encyclopaedia article 'The Application of Mathematics to Political Economy', which built on the 1900 'Sunto' by also dispensing with the cardinal measurement of utility.
We have found an empirical law for the variation of the length of the Earth's day with geologic time employing Wells's data.
So, to him, the rule had to do with the person performing a measurement, not with an empirical law involving the attribute being measured.
Boyle's law is an empirical law - an observed regularity.
Certainly not enough to convince the hard line orthodoxy of a new empirical law.
Either way, what becomes readily apparent in engaging these difficult sections of the Critique is the central importance of reason and dialectic to cognitive enterprises and the multiple dimensions along which reason insures the rationality of the pursuit of the general, whether it be a concept, an empirical law, or a theory, given the particular.
It turns out, however, that any evidence that may be taken to support this empirical law fails to meet a crucial requirement: Because the evidence depends on the--causally efficacious--neural properties only, it will remain unaffected if the causally inert--mental properties were absent and the law would not hold.

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