The Newtonian Myth

I examine Popper’s claims about Newton’s use of induction in Principia with the actual contents of Principia and draw two conclusions. Firstly, in common with most other philosophers of his generation, it appears that Popper had very little acquaintance with the contents and methodological complexities of Principia beyond what was in the famous General Scholium. Secondly Popper’s ideas about induction were less sophisticated than those of Newton, who recognised that it did not provide logical proofs of the results obtained using it, because of the possibilities of later, contrary evidence. I also trace the historical background to commonplace misconceptions about Newton’s method.Author Keywords: Newton; Popper; Induction; Principia; Kepler’s laws
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DOI 10.1016/S0039-3681(03)00045-1
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William Harper (2002). Newton's Argument for Universal Gravitation. In I. Bernard Cohen & George E. Smith (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Newton. Cambridge University Press 174--201.

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