Understanding (in) Newton's argument for universal gravitation

In this essay, I attempt to assess Henk de Regt and Dennis Dieks recent pragmatic and contextual account of scientific understanding on the basis of an important historical case-study: understanding in Newton’s theory of universal gravitation and Huygens’ reception of universal gravitation. It will be shown that de Regt and Dieks’ Criterion for the Intelligibility of a Theory (CIT), which stipulates that the appropriate combination of scientists’ skills and intelligibility-enhancing theoretical virtues is a condition for scientific understanding, is too strong. On the basis of this case-study, it will be shown that scientists can understand each others’ positions qualitatively and quantitatively, despite their endorsement of different worldviews and despite their convictions as what counts as a proper explanation.
Keywords KEPLERS LAWS  PLANETARY MOTION  Incommensurability  Spherical vortex cosmology  NEWTON  PRINCIPIA  Huygens  Actio in distans  Universal gravitation  Scientific understanding  H. de Regt  D. Dieks  Newton  Theoretical virtues  ISAAC  EXPLANATION  SENSE
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DOI 10.2307/20722509
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References found in this work BETA
Andrew Janiak (2007). Newton and the Reality of Force. Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (1):127-147.

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Citations of this work BETA
Steffen Ducheyne (2011). Newton on Action at a Distance and the Cause of Gravity. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1):154-159.

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