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2595. Cartwright's The Dappled World: a study of the boundaries of science.
Sometimes a book comes into view that answers a question that has been wandering around for a long time without a home. Cartwright’s is such a book.
This book supposes that, as appearances suggest, we live in a dappled world, a world
rich in different things, with different natures, behaving in different
ways. The laws that describe this world are a patchwork, not a pyramid. They
do not take after the simple, elegant and abstract structure of a system of
axioms and theorems. Rather they look like - and steadfastly stick to looking
like - science as we know it: apportioned into disciplines, apparently arbitrarily
grown up; governing different sets of properties at different levels of
abstraction; pockets of great precision; large parcels of qualitative maxims
resisting precise formulation; erratic overlaps; here and there, once in a while,
corners that line up, but mostly ragged edges; and always the cover of law
just loosely attached to the jumbled world of material things. For all we
know, most of what occurs in nature occurs by hap, subject to no law at all.
What happens is more like an outcome of negotiation between domains than
the logical consequence of a system of order. The dappled world is what,
for the most part, comes naturally: regimented behaviour results from good
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