The behavior of particular things is dictated by universal laws of nature, proclaim both philosophers and scientists, rather than by any intrinsic quality or internal force of the things themselves. Mumford (metaphysics, U. of Nottingham) challenges that notion, arguing that no adequate account has been produced of what such laws in nature might be, or how they would perform the work that has been required of them. There are other necessary connections in nature, he says, that can do all the work for which laws are thought to be needed. The world he describes is more of a jigsaw then a mosaic: its pieces can form only one picture, and no laws are needed to keep everything in place. Annotation c2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Stephen Mumford is Reader in Metaphysics in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Nottingham. He is the author of Dispositions (1998) and various papers in metaphysics. He is editor of Russell on Metaphysics (2003) and Powers by the late George Molnar (2003).