Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Michael Tooley

Second Advisor

Graeme Forbes

Third Advisor

Graham Oddie


This dissertation has two parts. In the first, I set out and defend a new empirical method of practicing metaphysics. The method avoids appeals to intuitions, ordinary beliefs, and the like. It does not accept basic principles of simplicity, unity, and the like. Instead, it proceeds from logic, analytic principles, and immediate experience alone. In the second part of my dissertation, I apply this method to the philosophy of laws of nature. I argue that there are excellent empirical reasons to accept governing laws instead of laws that reduce to other features of the world, such as natural regularities or facts about bare dispositions. The central idea is that observed natural regularities constitute strong evidence in favor of governing laws and against all competing theories. Further, I argue that the only intelligible account of governing laws is one according to which the connection between law and regularity is an irreducible necessary connection. Thus, the second part of my dissertation constitutes a new argument for metaphysically interesting a posteriori necessities.