Tag Archives: laws of nature

A. J. Ayer

[W]hatever may be the practical or aesthetic advantages of turning scientific laws into logically necessary truths, it does not advance our knowledge, or in any way add to the security of our beliefs. For what we gain in one way, we lose in another. If we make it a matter of definition that there are just so many million molecules in every gram of hydrogen, then we can indeed be certain that every gram of hydrogen will contain that number of molecules: but we must become correspondingly more doubtful, in any given case, whether what we take to be a gram of hydrogen really is so. The more we put into our definitions, the more uncertain it becomes whether anything satisfies them.

A. J. Ayer, ‘What Is a Law of Nature?’, Revue Internationale de Philosophie, vol. 10, no. 36 (2) (1956), p. 151

Bertrand Russell

If politics is to become scientific, and if the event is not to be constantly surprising, it is imperative that our political thinking should penetrate more deeply into the springs of human action. What is the influence of hunger upon slogans? How does their effectiveness fluctuate with the number of calories in your diet? If one man offers you democracy and another offers you a bag of grain, at what stage of starvation will you prefer the grain to the vote?

Bertrand Russell, ‘Nobel Lecture’, December 11, 1950