From owner-bhaskar Sat Mar 8 14:16:24 1997 Date: Sat, 8 Mar 1997 12:09:12 -0700 Message-Id: <> From: Hans Ehrbar <> Subject: BHA: rts2-24 Actualism and the Concept of a Closure 91 4. ACTUALISM AND TRANSCENDENTAL REALISM: THE INTERPRETATION OF NORMIC STATEMENTS In Section 2 the critical conditions for a closure have been developed and in Section 3 the concept of action implied by them has been brought out. Now two questions of great significance may be asked of any closure: (i) are the conditions for the closure universally satisfied or is the antecedent of the law-like statement for which the closure is defined instantiated in some open system? (ii) were the conditions for the closure artificially produced or did they occur naturally or spontaneously, i.e. without the active intervention of men? One could usefully distinguish here between `universal' and `restricted' closures; and between `artificial' and `spontaneous' ones. Only a universal closure is consistent with the empiricist concept of a law as a universal empirical regularity. For to say that the antecedent is instantiated in an open system is just to say, according to the criterion of Section 2 above, that given the antecedent the consequent fails to materialize on at least one occasion in the space-time region for which the system is defined. In general if a closure has been artificially established it cannot also be universal.35 It is of course precisely the ubiquity of open systems in nature that makes necessary an experimental rather than a merely empirical science. Once this is accepted, the idea of invariance over space-time must give way to the idea of invariance under experiment as a criterion of the empirical basis of a science. Moreover, strictly speaking, the invariance is that of a result, not a regularity. In general the result will be invariant to space and time, but not over them. On the other hand, it is clear that if the notion of laws as universal empirical 35 However a closure might be both universal and artificial if a generative mechanism had endured as a latent potentiality of nature until awakened by science under experimentally controlled conditions or if it had never been activated in its experimental range. But to the extent that the sciences are concerned with structures that not only exist but act independently of them (and so explain what goes on in the world outside the laboratory) the first possibility will be exceptional; and to the extent that they are concerned with the conditions under which these structures act the second possibility will. 92 A Realist Theory of Science regularities is retained, then the same logic that led to the regress of interactionism will lead to the demand for a closure of all interacting systems until - if everything is assumed to be in interaction - we have what might be called a `global' or `Laplacean' closure. (Such a slide can only be avoided if it is supposed that a non-interacting eternally closed system can be found - without this affecting anything in the system.) Now confronted with the instantiation of the antecedents of laws in open systems, i.e. in systems where their consequents are not invariably realized, the empiricist must abandon either the laws or his concept of them, viz. as universal empirical generalizations. For whatever is empirical must be actual. And in open systems laws if they are to be actual cannot be universal; and if they are to be universal cannot be actual. So he must say either that they are not laws; or that laws are not universal; or that laws are not empirical. The first position, which may be characterized as `strong actualism, was in effect adopted by Mill in his doctrine of laws as `unconditional sequences'.36 The trouble with it is that there are no unconditional sequences known to science. The second position, which may be characterized as `weak actualism', involves restricting the application of laws to closed systems. This may be done by making the satisfaction of a ceteris paribus clause a condition of the law's applicability. The trouble with it is that it leaves unanswered the question of what governs phenomena in open systems. Moreover it cannot provide a rationale for either the experimental establishment or the practical application of our knowledge (ironically in view of its sponsorship by self-styled `empiricists' and `pragmatists'). The third position is that of transcendental realism. It rejects the idea, common to both forms of actualism, that laws are empirical statements or statements about events. Instead, it regards them as normic or transfactual statements that apply in open and closed systems alike. On this view, closures are important in the experimental establishment of our knowledge. But they do not affect the ontological status of laws. On the contrary, the transcendental realist asserts, it is just because the things to which laws are ascribed go on acting in their normal way independently of whether or not a closure obtains that the scientific investigation of nature is possible. 36 J. S. Mill, A System of Logic, Vol. I, p. 378. Actualism and the concept of a Closure 93 The empiricist, when confronted with the phenomena of open systems, i.e. the non-availability of universal closures, is faced with the trilemma of choosing one of the forms of actualism (which involves either preserving his philosophical integrity at the expense of science or abandoning his integrity to justify science) or succumbing to transcendental realism. My strategy will be to argue that weak actualism is not a genuine alternative and if pushed must collapse into one of the other two. One way of describing these options is in terms of their different responses to the identifying mark of an open system, viz. the non-realisation of the consequent, given the instantiation of the antecedent of a law-like statement. For the strong actualist this means that the statement must be false, for the weak actualist it may be inapplicable, for the transcendental realist it can be both applicable and true. It must be false for the strong actualist because a law-like statement asserts the invariance of the conjunction between antecedent and consequent. It may be inapplicable rather than false for the weak actualist, if the ceteris paribus clause, subject to which it is regarded as being formulated is not satisfied. It can be both applicable and true for the transcendental realist, if it correctly describes the working of a generative mechanism and the mechanism was really at work in that instance. Moreover for the transcendental realist the statement can be known to be both applicable and true, namely if the statement has been independently verified (e.g. under experimentally closed conditions) and there is no reason to suppose that the nature of the thing possessing the tendency whose operation is described in the law has changed. The weak actualist is immediately faced with a problem here. For although the law-like statement may be inapplicable, viz. if the CP condition was not satisfied, rather than false, viz. if it was satisfied, there is no way on actualist lines that he can decide between these alternatives. The way in which this is normally settled is to see if the consequent is realized; if the consequent is not realized this means that the CP clause was not satisfied. But this involves using the law (thus presupposing both its truth and applicability - the latter in virtue of the satisfaction of the explicitly mentioned antecedent conditions) as a criterion of the stability of the circumambient conditions. Hence any attempt to use the stability of the circumambient conditions as a criterion 94 A Realist Theory of Science of the applicability of the law is viciously circular - as the law's applicability would be already presupposed in the test for the stability of the conditions. The situation in which the weak actualist finds himself has been expressed as follows:- When a prediction turns out to be false, the situation as regards the general laws used in making it is indeterminate: it cannot be known with certainty whether one or all the general laws have been disconfirmed or whether the ceteris paribus condition has not been fulfilled.37 It might be thought that the situation would be improved if an independent means of verification for the law was available. But supposing a law were experimentally verified its use in open systems would presuppose a general principle sanctioning the applicability of laws when their consequents were unrealized. But this is precisely what is in question here and what both forms of actualism deny. Now the strong actualist can only justify the retention of a law-like statement whose antecedent is instantiated in an open system as a temporary proxy or stand-in for the yet to be discovered unconditionally universal statement. But can the weak actualist do any better? For we are bound to ask him: if laws are restricted to closed systems what governs or accounts for phenomena in open ones? His options here are limited: either nothing does or something does. The former entails complete indeterminism. But the latter sets the weak actualist on the road to strong actualism. For to suppose that something accounts for the phenomena and to hold that current laws are inapplicable only makes sense on the assumption that open systems may be eventually closed. So it seems that the incomplete or non-atomistic descriptions that we currently call `laws' must be replaceable in time by complete atomistic ones which (given only that regularity determinism is true) will after all be both strictly universal and still empirical. So that the weak actualist too comes to regard present `laws' as temporary stand-ins for the Laplacean hour. The trouble with weak actualism is that it is prepared to acknowledge the fact of open systems without generating the means for science to cope with it; that is, it is prepared to differentiate but not to stratify reality, thus removing the 37 E. Grunberg, `The Meaning of Scope and External Boundaries of Economics', The Structure of Economic Science, ed. S. R. Krupp, p. 151. Actualism and the Concept of a Closure Possibility that in our ascription of laws we are referring to a way of acting or a level of structure that is not confined to closed systems. The necessity to view the satisfaction of the CP clause as a condition of a law's applicability vanishes once we realize that it is precisely a key function of the concept of law to apply transfactually, in open and closed systems alike. The satisfaction of the CP clause is, on the other hand, a condition for a decisive test situation (its verification depending necessarily upon the applicability of `auxiliary' or bridge laws). But the truth of any normic statement is in general determined quite independently of, and antecedently to, its explanatory and other uses in open systems. Given only a knowledge that the antecedent is instantiated and the absence of specific reasons for supposing that the tendency is no longer possessed by the thing we can then be justifiably sure that the tendency is being exercised or as it were in play; although only if we have grounds for supposing the system closed does that certainty license the prediction of its fulfilment. The citation of a law presupposes a claim about the activity of some mechanism but not about the conditions under which the mechanism operates and hence not about the results of its activity, i.e. the actual outcome on any particular occasion. This will in general be co-determined by the activity of other mechanisms too. Indeed it is precisely because it is non-committal about the nature of the circumambient conditions that a statement of law does not in general justify a claim about events, let alone experiences. Strong actualism regards the appearance of open systems as a mark of ignorance and initiates interactionist and reductionist regresses in an attempt to overcome it. Weak actualism acknowledges the de facto existence of open systems but then proceeds to fence them off from science. For strong and weak actualism alike, open systems fall outside the pale of science. In this way empiricism understates its potential scope of application. Lacking from both forms of actualism is the concept of generative mechanisms which endure, so that the laws they ground continue to prevail, in open and closed systems; so making possible the scientific understanding of things and structures which exist and act quite independently both of our descriptions and the exercise of our causal powers. 96 A Realist Theory of Science Braithwaite falls into the same trap as weak actualism by arguing that a tendency statement is a conditional with an unspecified antecedent.38 For if it is unspecified we cannot know when to apply it. It is in fact vital to distinguish the explicit conditions in the protasis of the law-like statement from the unknown conditions that the CP clause may be required to cover. The satisfaction of the former is a condition for the applicability of a law. But neither a knowledge (strong actualism) nor the stability (weak actualism) of the latter can be a condition for the applicability of a law. There are three reasons for this. First, it is in principle impossible to specify all the conditions that the CP clause may be required to cover. Indeed, if one could do so, there would be no need for the CP clause in the first place. Second, as has been seen, the satisfaction of the CP clause cannot normally be verified independently of the actualization of the consequent; hence to make it a condition for the applicability of the law is circular. Thirdly, as the satisfaction of the CP clause is time-dependent (being trivially satisfied instantaneously), acceptance of it as a condition for the law's applicability generates absurd and totally counter-intuitive results. For example, on it a law may be applicable for every five-minute interval in a day, but not for the day overall. The proper place of the phrase `other things being equal' is not as part of the protasis but at the tail-end of the statement as a reminder that, because the system in which the thing's behaviour occurs may not be closed, the tendency postulated in the statement may not be actualized. Satisfaction of the CP clause is not a condition for the applicability of a law. It is, however, a condition for the actualization of the tendency designated in the statement (for which it is sufficient, although not strictly necessary). And from this are derived its two main roles: first and foremost, as a signal of the normic nature of the proposition being expressed, as a reminder that the tendency designated may not be actualized; and secondly and derivatively, as a warning to historicists and pseudo-falsifiers, cautioning the former that the prediction of the tendency is not deductively justified and the latter that if the tendency is unfulfilled the statement should not - on that ground alone - be held to have been falsified. Thus the CP clause does not place a condition on explanation, for one can explain an 38 R. B. Braithwaite, Scientific Explanation, p. 302. Actualism and the Concept of a Closure 97 event in terms of tendencies when the latter are never realized. Rather it places a condition on prediction and falsification. This account needs qualifying in two ways. First, if we distinguish between the constancy of intrinsic and extrinsic conditions (as suggested in Section 2 above) and between the constancy of more and less important intrinsic ones (as suggested in Section 3) then the constancy of intrinsic structure is a condition for the applicability of a law. Tendencies are only possessed, and hence can only be exercised, as long as the nature of their possessor remains unchanged. But this does not vitiate my account. For law-like behaviour is predicated essentially of things, which are typically referred to in the protasis. There is a real asymmetry, which is reflected in the structure of law-like statements, between the intrinsic structure or essential nature of a thing (which in general constitutes its identity or fixes it in its kind) and the conditions under which it acts in that a change in the former but not the latter leads to a change in the thing's tendencies, liabilities and powers. Secondly, I have said that the CP clause functions as a reminder and a warning. But such reminders and warnings are only necessary as long as law-like statements continue to be formulated and thought of in the actualist mode. If there were no historicists or pseudo-falsifiers there would be no need for reminders to them. Hence a fully realist philosophy of science could in principle dispense entirely with the CP clause (at least in this aspect of its work).39 For whatever is conveyed by `This happens CP' can be equally well conveyed by `This tends to happen'. (To add CP to this statement would be to qualify the tendency, not its fulfilment.) This is not a shallow, equivocal, sloppy or mean formulation; but the logical form of all the laws of nature known to science. I want to turn now to consider in more detail the character of normic statements. A full analysis of the logic of tendency statements must, however, be postponed until Chapter 3. On the view of science advanced here, power and tendency statements are categorical rather than, as maintained by Hume and Ryle, hypothetical. Hypotheticals provide the empirical 39 There is another possible use for a ceteris paribus clause, viz. as a protective device in the early stages of a science's development. This will be considered in Chapter 3. 98 A Realist Theory of Science grounds for our ascriptions of powers and tendencies, but they do not capture their meaning. Tendencies are roughly powers which may be exercised unfulfilled. They are thus well adjusted to cope with open systems. If a system is closed then a tendency once set in motion must be fulfilled. If the system is open this may not happen due to the presence of `offsetting factors' or `countervailing causes'. But there must be a reason why, once a tendency is set in motion, it is not fulfilled; in a sense in which it would be dogmatic to postulate that there must be a reason why the tendency is set in motion. Once a tendency is set in motion it is fulfilled unless it is prevented. The following is my interpretation of the mode of application of lawlike statements. Such statements, when their initial conditions are satisfied, make a claim about the activity of a tendency, i.e. about the operation of the generative mechanism that would, if undisturbed, result in the tendency's manifestation; but not about the conditions in which the tendency is exercised and hence not about whether it will be realized or prevented. Because the operation of the generative mechanism does not depend upon the closure or otherwise of the system in which the mechanism operates, the mode of application of law-like statements is the same in open and closed systems; what does differ is the inference that can be drawn from our knowledge of the applicability of the statements in the two cases. Notice that although the application of a normic statement warrants a subjunctive conditional about what would have happened if the system were to have been closed, the full force of its meaning cannot be understood or captured in this way. It has to be interpreted categorically and indicatively to the effect that a generative mechanism was really at work; which helps to account for, though it does not completely determine, whatever actually happened. The `thing' which possesses the tendency is not necessarily the same `thing' as that whose behaviour is recorded in the law-like statement. Indeed it is characteristic of science to postulate novel entities as the bearers of the tendencies and powers manifest in the behaviour of observed things. The class of `things' is far wider than that of `material objects': it includes fluids, gases, electronic structures, fields of potentials, genetic codes, etc.; so we must try to divest the concept of its normal material Actualism and the Concept of a Closure 99 object connotations. The idea of a tendency exercised unfulfilled seems strange if we think of ordinary material objects such as tables and chairs. People provide in this respect a better model for the entities discovered and investigated by science. There is nothing mysterious about tendency ascriptions to people. We know what it is like to be in a situation where we tend to lose our patience or temper and we know what it is like keeping it. Tendencies exercised unfulfilled; shown, perhaps, but unrealized in virtue of our self-control. Now when a tendency is exercised unfulfilled two things are not in doubt: (a) that something actually happens, towards explaining which the exercise of the tendency goes some way; and (b) that something is really going on, i.e. there is a real generative mechanism at work, which accounts for the influence of the factor the tendency represents in the generation of the event. In the case of (a) there are two conceptual traps. The first is to think of the exercise of the tendency unfulfilled as an action without results, rather than as an action with modified results. Something does happen; and the tendency, as one of the influences at work, helps to explain what. The second is to think of it as if it were an action fulfilled, i.e. in terms of its fulfilment. It is a mistake to think of the exercise of a tendency in terms of the imagery, metaphors or descriptions appropriate to its fulfilment. Yet Mill in his unofficial doctrine of tendencies in effect does this when he argues that `although two or more laws interfere with one another, and apparently frustrate or modify one another's operations, yet in reality all are fulfilled, the collective effect being the exact sum of the causes taken separately'.40 Mill's mistake here is to suppose that whenever a tendency is set in motion the effect must be in some sense (or in some realm) occurring (as if every time we ran fast we had to be in some way winning). But Geach (and following him Ryan) in ridiculing this position make the converse mistake of supposing that whenever no effect (of a given type) occurs, nothing can be in motion or really going on.41 But here Mill is right and Geach is wrong. Balaam's ass is pulled in two ways; we do just 40 J. S, Mill, op. cit., Bk. III, Chap. 10, Sect. 5. 41 P, T. Geach, `Aquinas', Three Philosophers, G. E. M. Anscombe and P. T. Geach, p. 103; and A. Ryan, The Philosophy of John Stuart Mill, pp. 65-6. 100 A Realist Theory of Science manage to keep our tempers; the market equilibrium is explained in terms of an exact balance of buying and selling; when the beam finally collapses it is due to the real cumulative effect of the woodrot. Mill's mistake is to think of the exercise of the tendency under the description of its fulfilment, as if Balaam's ass, in order to be pulled two ways, had actually to go in both directions. Geach's mistake is to suppose that because neither tendency is fulfilled neither tendency can be in play. In other words, they both make the mistake of seeing the fulfillment of a tendency a condition of its exercise. Let me stress that the scientist's situation is such that he is never in any doubt that the given an effect something is producing it; his doubts is only over what is. Now clearly this does not mean that he is committed to a realist interpretation of every theory; what it does mean is that as a theorist his task remains essentially incomplete until he has produced a theory which correctly describes the mechanisms by means of which the effect in question is produced. It is in this light that other possible interpretations of normic statements must be considered. It is misleading to think of normic statements as `idealizations' or `abstractions'. For both concepts conceal a crucial ambiguity as to the object idealized or abstracted from, in which the superior reality of events or experiences is tacitly assumed. The conception of the generative mechanism or structure that backs a normic statement need not be `idealized' or `abstract' in relation to really existing or the reality of existing structures. Once the necessity for a redefinition of the objects of a science as structures rather than events is accepted then the concept of an idealization must be used in relation to the reality of that object. And it cannot be assumed that all theoretical statements are idealizations in this sense. A model of the intrinsic structure of an atom or a DNA molecule or the solar system is not necessarily more perfect than the intrinsic structure of a real atom, DNA molecule or solar system. The standard of perfection is not set by men. Of course if one takes `theoretical' as a synonym for `unreal' (or at any rate `less real') normic statements will appear as `ideal' in that the tendency they designate or mechanism they describe is rarely if ever manifest in unmodified form;42 and as `abstract' in that they select from what 42 See e.g. E. Nagel, op. cit., p. 493. Actualism and the Concept of a Closure 101 is in open systems a mesh of influences and cross-influences just one as the focus of attention.43 But to think like this is to fall into the error of supposing that events are more real than the structures and mechanisms that generate them. Scriven makes a similar mistake in contending that normic statements are `guarded generalizations'.44 The only thing one need be `guarded' about in using a normic statement is the assumption that the tendency whose activity is designated in the normic statement will be realized. If such statements have been independently and well confirmed (under experimentally closed conditions) then we may be completely and rationally confident in using them. Such confidence is expressed in, rather than weakened by, our willingness to use the CP clause against naive actualist objections on their behalf. It is only if one tacitly views law-like statements as in the final analysis empirical generalizations that one will feel that (because in asserting a law-like statement one is asserting the realization of the consequent), if one cannot be sure of the realization of the consequent then one can only assert the law-like statement `guardedly'. But of course in asserting a normic statement one is not asserting the realization of the consequent; but the operation of a mechanism irrespective of its results (which it is precisely the function of the normic statement to be non-committal about). Both these ideas depend upon an implicit recognition that reality is differentiated in a way that classical empiricism ignores and so requires something more of science than it provides. But the possibility opened up by this recognition is constrained by a continuing commitment to empirical realism. It is this which prevents the acknowledgement that reality is not only differentiated but stratified too. Once the stratification of the world is grasped it is possible to see how our knowledge can be both universally applicable and rarely (empirically) instantiated; and so to resolve Poncare's problem that `on the one hand, [laws] are truths founded on experiment and approximately verified so far as concerns isolated systems. On the other hand, they are postulates applicable to the totality of the universe and regarded 43 Cf. Weber's concept of an `ideal type' as a one-sided exaggeration of an aspect of `concrete', i.e. empirical, reality. See e.g. M. Weber, Methodology of the Social Sciences. 44 M. Scriven, op. cit., p. 466. 102 A Realist Theory of Science as rigorously true'.46 Normic statements speak of structures not events, the generator not the generated. In asserting a normic statement one is not making a guarded or idealized statement about an empirical reality. Rather one is making a statement, which may be `guarded' or `idealized' in its own right, about a different level of reality. Normic statements are not second best kind of empirical generalizations. They are not empirical statements at all. Two further misinterpretations of normic statements must be guarded against. Normic (or transfactual) statements are not counterfactual statements. They legitimate the latter; and, like them, are only validatable in relation to an antecedently and independently established body of theory. But whereas to say that a statement is a counterfactual is just to say that the conditions specified in the antecedent do not obtain; in the case of a normic statement these conditions may obtain, and if they do (and the statement has been independently verified) it can then be interpreted quite straightforwardly as a statement about what is really going on though in a perhaps unmanifest way. (In the case of counterfactuals antecedents are by definition unsatisfied; in the case of transfactuals it is contingent whether consequents are realized.) It is only if the CP clause is regarded as a component of the protasis that it is plausible to interpret a normic statement as making, in its open systemic uses, a counter-factual claim. This is a postion, most naturally associated with weak actualism, that has been argued against above. Normic statements have also sometimes been justified as `averages' or `rough approximations'; or alternatively as elliptical probability statements. Both ideas involve a confusion of epistemic and natural possibility. For, on the one hand, I may be quite certain about the activity of a natural mechanism on a particular occasion but incapable of any judgement about the outcome; and, on the other, I may be sure that some rule of thumb will hold though quite uncertain about the reasons why. I have argued that in open systems consequents may be unrealized but that despite this we may know that a law is applicable (a mechanism is at work) if we know that its antecedent has been instantiated and it has been in dependently verified. But both antecedents and consequents are events in open systems. Is 45 H. Poincare, Science and Hypothesis, p. 98. Actualism and the Concept of a Closure 103 there not an asymmetry here ? Am I not placing a higher demand on antecedents than consequents? Ontologically no; but epistemically yes. For a mechanism may be set in motion and because of the complexity or opacity of the conditions under which this happens the describer may not know that it has been set in motion; so that a fortiori he cannot know that the law it grounds is applicable. To explain an event by invoking a law I must have grounds for supposing that a mechanism is at work; but the mechanism may be at work, given that its stimulus and other conditions are satisfied, without my knowing it. Some fields may be incapable of detection. In section 2 the critical conditions for a closure were developed and in section 3 the concept of action implied by them was brought out. In both cases their restrictedness was noted. In this section a realist account of laws has been counterposed to the actualist account and its superiority clearly demonstrated. Once we are persuaded of the very special conditions presupposed by actualism and the possibility of an alternative, what havoc must we make of the doctrines of orthodox philosophy of science? In nature, constant conjunctions are the rare exception; not, as supposed by actualism, the universal rule. And in general it requires human activity to generate them. To invoke a law I must have grounds for supposing that the antecedent conditions are satisfied, so that the mechanism designated is active. But it is only if I have grounds for supposing that the system in which the mechanism acts is closed that the prediction of the consequent event is deductively justified. With this in mind let us return to the theories expressed in statements (i)-(v) on pages 634 above. It is only under conditions of a closure that given the antecedent, the deduction of the consequent event is possible, so that the conditions for the Popper-Hempel theory of explanation are satisfied (ii) or those for the symmetry between `explanation' and p`rediction' obtain (iii). It is only then that ex ante criteria of refutation can be laid down for a theory (iv) or that it makes sense to judge a theory by its predictive success (v). For it is only then that the resemblances and sequences between phenomena, that Mill identified and so confused with laws, are constant (i). It is contingent whether some enduring thing or mechanism is activated. And though, given this, it is necessary that a certain 104 A Realist Theory of Science . tendency should be `in play', it is contingent, upon the occurrence of a closure, whether the consequent of the law-like statement is realized. In short, to know that law is effective I do not need to be in a position to predict any event (and, it might be added, vice versa). Now once we have grasped the ubiquity of open systems in nature we will be in a better position to understand the embarrassment with which textbooks in the philosophy of science gloss over their failure to produce a single law or explanation which satisfy the criteria they so laboriously develop and defend; a fact which bears eloquent witness to the non-ability of universal closures of any epistemic significance. We will also be in a better position to understand not just this failure, but their absurdity, when they seek to apply these same criteria to fields such as history and the human sciences, where the conditions for even a restricted closure (of a non-trivial kind) are not naturally and cannot be experimentally satisfied, and where the concept of action implied by these criteria is patently inapplicable. For a closure one each of the system, individual and organizational conditions must be satisfied. Reflection on the conditions set out on page 76 above and the concept of action implied by them (see (i)-(vi) on page 83) shows the patent absurdity of trying to apply the constant conjunction formula to the domain of social life. Consider the conditions for a closure as applied to e.g. the category of persons. Remember that people are individuals, which means that they are complexly structured and pre-formed in different ways, so that they will respond differently in the same external circumstances (i.e. to the same stimulus). Remember too that they are subject to a continuing flow of contingencies, none of which can be predicted with deductive certainty. And, without calling into question the applicability of the classical paradigm (with its assumption that the stimulus conditions for action are always extrinsic), that they are engaged in activities such as writing and cooking, bar billiards and chess, which cannot be plausibly analysed in terms of atomistic components. In short, where the subjects, conditions or forms of action are characterized by structure, diversity or change, the Humean theory of the actuality of causal laws, and ipso facto the theories of science that are based on it, just cannot apply. Conversely, it is just because the very special conditions for a Actualism and the Concept of a Closure 105 closure are sometimes satisfied in physics and chemistry (though they are not normally possible in the other natural sciences - from cosmology to biology) that accounts for the prima facie plausibility of these theories there. But the transcendental analysis of experience allow us to turn the tables on actualism and empiricism here. For it is not given conjunctions of events (or experiences) but structures which are normally out of phase with the patterns of events (and experiences) that emerge from it as the true objects of scientific understanding. This raises the question of whether there are analogous structures at work in fields other than physics and chemistry. If there are, we must bear in mind that it would not even be plausible to misconstrue them as empirical generalizations. On the other hand, if we continue to confuse laws and empirical generalizations we shall never be able to identify them. --- from list --- .