1

The hypothesis is that there are laws of nature, like those that govern the movement of the planets, which govern everything that happens in the world—and that in accordance with those laws, the circumstances before an action determine that it will happen, and rule out any other possibility.

[What does it all mean, T.Nagel]

Is "and that" connected with "The hypothesis is"?

and

Is the word "it" referring to "the action"? thanks!

  • 2
    Yes. The hykpothesis is that X... and that Y.... Circumstances determine that the action will happen. – StoneyB Apr 6 '18 at 17:32
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that can introduce content (among doing other things).

The hypothesis is
{      
     that: {

              there are laws of nature, like those that govern the movement of 
              the planets, which govern everything that happens in the world

        }
    and
    that: {
             in accordance with those laws, the circumstances before an action 
             determine that it will happen, and rule out any other possibility.
           }

}
1

A good first step to simplifying sentences for understanding is to remove unnecessary clauses:

The hypothesis is that there are laws of nature, like those that govern the movement of the planets, which govern everything that happens in the world—and that in accordance with those laws, the circumstances before an action determine that it will happen, and rule out any other possibility.

becomes

The hypothesis is that there are laws of nature and that in accordance with those laws, the circumstances before an action determine that it (the action) will happen, and rule out any other possibility.

to simplify even further:

There are natural laws. In accordance with those laws, the circumstances before an action determine that that action will happen.

I believe the quote is discussing cause and effect and the idea of a mechanistic world.

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