David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (1):157-170 (2002)
This paper argues that, contrary to the claims of Alan Chalmers, Boyle understood his experimental work to be intimately related to his mechanical philosophy. Its central claim is that the mechanical philosophy has a heuristic structure that motivates and gives direction to Boyle's experimental programme. Boyle was able to delimit the scope of possible explanations of any phenomenon by positing both that all qualities are ultimately reducible to a select group of mechanical qualities and that all explanations of natural phenomena are to be in terms of the operations of machines and are to appeal only to qualities that are already familiar. This is illustrated by his investigations into the Torricellian experiment. Boyle's explanation of the elevation of the mercurial cylinder by appeal to the spring of the air was an intermediate mechanical explanation. Boyle was convinced that the spring of the air was ultimately reducible to the mechanical qualities. This in turn had implications for his research into the cause of respiration. In a move that was both parsimonious and consistent with the broad requirements of the mechanical philosophy, Boyle was able to solve the problem of the cause of the inflow of air into the lungs by appeal to his research in pneumatics. This application of a mechanical explanation in pneumatics to physiology is just what one would expect if the mechanical philosophy was as universal as Boyle claimed it to be. Therefore, far from Boyle's experiments having a life of their own, they were clearly directed by and understood in terms of the mechanical philosophy.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
A. Pyle (2002). Boyle on Science and the Mechanical Philosophy: A Reply to Chalmers. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (1):171-186.
Michael Jacovides (2008). Lockean Fluids. In Paul Hoffman, David Owen & Gideon Yaffe (eds.), Contemporary Perspectives on Early Modern Philosophy: Essays in Honor of Vere Chappell. Broadview Press
J. J. MacIntosh (1992). Robert Boyle's Epistemology: The Interaction Between Scientific and Religious Knowledge. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 6 (2):91 – 121.
Rose-Mary Sargent (2004). Robert Boyle and the Masculine Methods of Science. Philosophy of Science 71 (5):857-867.
Rose‐Mary Sargent (2004). Robert Boyle and the Masculine Methods of Science. Philosophy of Science 71 (5):857-867.
R. P. (2002). Boyle on Seminal Principles. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 33 (4):597-630.
Jan-Erik Jones (2005). Boyle, Classification and the Workmanship of the Understanding Thesis. Journal of the History of Philosophy 43 (2):171-183.
A. Chalmers (2002). Experiment Versus Mechanical Philosophy in the Work of Robert Boyle: A Reply to Anstey and Pyle. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 33 (1):187-193.
Laura Keating (1993). Un-Locke-Ing Boyle: Boyle on Primary and Secondary Qualities. History of Philosophy Quarterly 10 (4):305 - 323.
Alan Chalmers (1993). The Lack of Excellency of Boyle's Mechanical Philosophy. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 24 (4):541-564.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads9 ( #231,597 of 1,699,591 )
Recent downloads (6 months)2 ( #269,935 of 1,699,591 )
How can I increase my downloads?