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What is the difference between Theory and Law?

  1. Jul 21, 2004 #1
    What is the difference between Theory and Law? As we all know, Theory is the most fundamental in any subject. How is it important? How is it useful?
    Can you give me one example to understand " The importance of Theory "?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 23, 2004 #2
    To my understanding.

    Theory is the result of a:
    postulate, that leads to a logical conclusion.

    The postulate may be a given.
    You remember the given postulate, right ? Given. :approve:

    Law is a system of judgement. So law is concerned with the entire proveable theory. If one person see's the theory is true, a set, or order, or collection of people establish a Law.
    Like your read addition and subtraction from left to right. See ?

    String theory may be a law. But nobody can see that yet, so the theory isn't law yet, and people can't base a set of rule or order of people on it.
  4. Jul 26, 2004 #3
    (Please forgive the size of this post.) The definitions of "theory" and "law", in science, are as follows:

    A "law" is a readily observable fact about something. It is something that is obvious and undeniable. Allow me to clear up a common misconception right now, laws are not a "higher" stage than theory, and no theory ever becomes a law. Laws are simple and obvious statements about a phenomenon that never require a second guess, or an experiment, to verify them (for example, there is a law that states that there exists an apparent attraction between all objects having positive mass...it's called the law of Gravity, and it's not just undeniable, but it's readily observable and demonstrable (by virtue of the simple fact that you are not floating about, but are anchored to the Earth)).

    Now, a "theory" is an advanced hypothesis. An hypothesis is a plausible, testable explanation of how a phenomenon works and/or why it works that way. Once an hypothesis has been tested repeatedly, under a variety of conditions, such that it is sufficient to convince a majority that the hypothesis is probably right ("right", in this context, means that it can be used successfully to make predictions as to how the phenomenon will behave if one conducts the same experiment(s) again), it can graduate to "theory", but it is still tested just as vigorously.

    A theory can be "strong" or "weak", depending on the amount of evidence there is that agrees with it, the amount of accurate predictions it's made, and the amount of experiments that have been conducted and have concluded in its favor. However, it doesn't matter how strong a theory gets (you might think of such as examples as the theory of Evolution, Relativity, Quantum Mechanics, &c), it never becomes a law. That would run contrary to the definition of "law" as readily observable and nor requiring experimenation for verification. Also, a theory may always be disproven, but it must then be replaced with a better theory.
  5. Jul 26, 2004 #4

    Oh. + we teach the order of operations because we see this readily apparent law, and use the order of operations law to allow fair commerce and legal rule of that n stuff.

    I didn't know that. Please elaborate on what I added to your words. About how if what you said is true, we all know the order of operatins, and yet we are taught that very thing. Even have to remember it when doing problems.
  6. Jul 27, 2004 #5
    I don't understand the question. Could you restate it please?
  7. Jul 27, 2004 #6
    I will try.

    Law is a system based on complete theories.
    The order of operations is a proven theory, that law accepts as proven, and so uses it to govern - money, resources, and such.

    Your saying that law is readily viewable, and in no way based on proven theories. Then how can the above be ?
  8. Jul 29, 2004 #7
    When you say "Law", are you referring to the laws of a government, moral law, or scientific law? They are very different concepts.

    The "law of the land" (so to speak) is based on numerous theories, but it is of a completely different nature than a scientific law (e.g. the Laws of Thermodynamics), which is a plain observation.
  9. Jul 29, 2004 #8
    Man. Don't get me to repeat myself. That can lead to numerous such requests and replies. Good greif.

    The law that uses the order of operations is
    A) Governments, and their institutions.
    2.) Theories that do not use or need the theory of the order of operations ?

    ? :confused:

    You don't get my jibber jabber on this thread ? :rofl:

    Well. Do you want to hear that again ? :yuck: :confused: :eek:
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2004
  10. Jul 29, 2004 #9


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    They would appear to be equivalent. So why do we have the laws of thermodynamics instead of the theory of thermodynamics? Why not the law of relativity? Probably a matter of terminology from one century to the next.
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