The anticipation of necessity: Kant on Kepler's laws and universal gravitation

Philosophy of Science 67 (3):421-443 (2000)
Kant's views on the epistemological status of physical science provide an important example of how a philosophical system can be applied to understand the foundation of scientific theories. Michael Friedman has made considerable progress towards elucidating Kant's philosophy of science; in particular, he has argued that Kant viewed Newton's law of universal gravitation as necessary for the possibility of experiencing what Kant called true motion, which is more than the mere relative motion of appearances but is different from Newton's concept of absolute motion. In this context, Friedman has provided an account of how Kant must have viewed Newton's supposed derivation of universal gravitation from Kepler's laws, based on, among other things, Kant's claim that Newton really needed to make extra assumptions in order to derive universal gravitation. In this paper, I argue that Friedman's account is incomplete for three reasons. First, Friedman has overlooked an important aspect of how Newton's third law is applied in the relevant sections of the Principia; as a result, Friedman's account partially misconstrues the relation between the planetary phenomena and the theory of universal gravitation. Second, his account fails to account for Kant's apparent belief that Kepler's laws are only empirically-based rules, even though they seem to be necessary for the derivation of universal gravitation and hence also necessary for Kant's own definition of true motion. Third, Friedman has overlooked some remarks by Kant that indicate that Kant thought the crucial properties of universal gravitation could be known without reference to the empirically determined motions of the planets and hence seemingly without any help from Newton
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/392789
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
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.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Howard Stein (1990). "From the Phenomena of Motions to the Forces of Nature": Hypothesis or Deduction? PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:209 - 222.
Steffen Ducheyne (2009). Understanding (in) Newton's Argument for Universal Gravitation. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (2):227 - 258.
William Harper (1990). Newton's Classic Deductions From Phenomena. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1990:183 - 196.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

40 ( #83,639 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #231,316 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.