Nomological danglers

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Nomological danglers is a term used by Scottish-Australian philosopher J.J.C. Smart in his article Sensations and Brain Processes. He credits the term to Herbert Feigl and his article The "Mental" and the "Physical". It refers to the occurrence of something (in this case a sensation), which does not fit into the system of established laws. He thinks that systems in which such "nomological danglers would dangle" are quite odd. In his example the nomological danglers would be sensations such that are not able to be explained by the scientific theory of brain processes. Some mental entities for example in a phenomenological field, that are not able to be found (and do not behave in the way that is expected) in physics. In the context Smart uses it, he is criticising dualism and epiphenomenalism as philosophies of mind, and the concerns over physical and causal laws they raise. Smart puts forward his own theory in the form of Materialism, claiming it is a better theory, in part because it is free from these nomological danglers, making it superior in accordance with Occam's Razor.


  • H. Feigl, "The 'Mental' and the 'Physical' " in: Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, II, pp. 370-497
  • JJC. Smart, "Sensations and Brain Processes" in: Philosophical Review 68, pp. 141-156