2 thoughts on “Another Look at Law and Theory

  1. Eclectic

    Thank you! I’ve suggested a similar law/theory distinction, so I’m heartened to see that you roughly agree.
    I came up with slightly different wording.

    A law is an observed consistent pattern, with a usefully broad range of application, but it does not include an explanation or model of what is going on. Why is Ohm’s law true? Ohm had no idea. Nor do we really understand why there is conservation of angular momentum.

    A law doesn’t have to be universally or exactly true to be useful. There are plenty of exceptions to Hooke’s law, and conservation of energy needed an update with E=mc². To say nothing of what Einstein did to Newton’s law of universal gravitation.

    But the statement of a law is the first step in asking “why?” A more complete model—a theory—lets you understand under what circumstances the law will break down.

  2. Collin

    Another word that needs to be defined is “interpretation”. I’d like to see your take on this, specifically in terms of Intelligent Design. My gut reaction is that ID is not an interpretation, but I don’t have a good way to convey that.

    I’d also like to see your take on whether String Theory is a theory. Again, my gut reaction is no.

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