A competence model describes the abstract structure of a solution to some problem. or class of problems, facing the would-be intelligent system. Competence models can be quite derailed, specifying far more than merely the function to be computed. But for all that, they are pitched at some level of abstraction from the details of any particular algorithm or processing strategy which may be said to realize the competence. Indeed, it is the point and virtue of such models to specify some (...) equivalence class of algorithms/processing strategies so that the common properties highlighted by the chosen class may feature in psychologically interesting accounts. A question arises concerning the type of relation a theorist might expect to hold between such a competence model and a psychologically real processing strategy. Classical work in cognitive science expects the actual processing to depend on explicit or tacit knowledge of the competence theory. Connectionist work, for reasons to be explained, represents a departure from this norm. But the precise way in which a connectionist approach may disturb the satisfying classical symmetry of competence and processing has yet to be properly specified. A standard ?Newtonian? connectionist account, due to Paul Smolensky, is discussed and contrasted with a somewhat different ?rogue? account. A standard connectionist understanding has it that a classical competence theory describes an idealized subset of a network's behaviour. But the network's behaviour is not to be explained by its embodying explicit or tacit knowledge of the information laid out in the competence theory. A rogue model, by contrast, posits either two systems, or two aspects of a single system, such that one system does indeed embody the knowledge laid out in the competence theory. (shrink)
Newtonian forces are pushes and pulls, possessing magnitude and direction, that are exerted (in the first instance) by objects, and which cause (in particular) motions. I defend Newtonian forces against the four best reasons for denying or doubting their existence. A running theme in my defense of forces will be the suggestion that Newtonian Mechanics is a special science, and as such has certain prima facie ontological rights and privileges, that may be maintained against various challenges.
The causal characters (spacelike, lightlike, timelike) of the coordinate lines, coordinate surfaces and coordinate hypersurfaces of a coordinate system in Relativity define what is called its causal class. It is known that, in any relativistic space-time, there exist one hundred and ninety nine such causal classes. But in Newtonian physics (where only spacelike and timelike characters exist) the corresponding causal classes have not been discussed until recently. Here it is shown that, in sharp contrast with the relativistic case, in Newtonian (...) space-time the different causal classes of coordinate systems are drastically reduced to four. These causal classes admit simple geometric descriptions and physical interpretations. For example, it is shown that one can generate coordinate systems of the four causal classes by means of the sole linear synchronization group, i.e. by coordinate transformations that only change the origin of time linearly. The relativistic analogs of these examples are also considered. (shrink)
Newton, along with a number of other seventeenth-century scientists, is frequently charged with having held an inconsistent view of nature and its operations, believing on the one hand in immutable laws of nature, and on the other in divine interventions into the natural order. In this paper I argue that Newton, William Whiston, and Samuel Clarke, came to understand miracles, not as violations of laws of nature, but rather as beneficent coincidences which were remarkable either because they were unusual, or (...) were beyond current understandings of nature. In this manner the Newtonians managed to reconcile their scientific pursuits with their religious convictions. (shrink)
If the force on a particle fails to satisfy a Lipschitz condition at a point, it relaxes one of the conditions necessary for a locally unique solution to the particle’s equation of motion. I examine the most discussed example of this failure of determinism in classical mechanics—that of Norton’s dome—and the range of current objections against it. Finding there are many different conceptions of classical mechanics appropriate and useful for different purposes, I argue that no single conception is preferred. Instead (...) of arguing for or against determinism, I stress the wide variety of pragmatic considerations that, in a specific context, may lead one usefully and legitimately to adopt one conception over another in which determinism may or may not hold. (shrink)
John Norton has recently argued that Newtonian gravitation theory (at least as applied to cosmological contexts where one envisions the possibility of a homogeneous mass distribution throughout all of space) is inconsistent. I am not convinced. Traditional formulations of the theory may seem to break down in cases of the sort Norton considers. But the difficulties they face are only apparent. They are artifacts of the formulations themselves, and disappear if one passes to the so-called "geometrized" formulation of the theory.
The first two sections of this paper investigate what Newton could have meant in a now famous passage from “De Graviatione” (hereafter “DeGrav”) that “space is as it were an emanative effect of God.” First it offers a careful examination of the four key passages within DeGrav that bear on this. The paper shows that the internal logic of Newton’s argument permits several interpretations. In doing so, the paper calls attention to a Spinozistic strain in Newton’s thought. Second it sketches (...) four interpretive options: (i) one approach is generic neo-Platonic; (ii) another approach is associated with the Cambridge Platonist, Henry More; a variant on this (ii*) emphasizes that Newton mixes Platonist and Epicurean themes; (iii) a necessitarian approach; (iv) an approach connected with Bacon’s efforts to reformulate a useful notion of form and laws of nature. Hitherto only the second and third options have received scholarly attention in scholarship on DeGrav. The paper offers new arguments to treat Newtonian emanation as a species of Baconian formal causation as articulated, especially, in the first few aphorisms of part two of Bacon’s New Organon. If we treat Newtonian emanation as a species of formal causation then the necessitarian reading can be combined with most of the Platonist elements that others have discerned in DeGrav, especially Newton’s commitment to doctrines of different degrees of reality as well as the manner in which the first existing being ‘transfers’ its qualities to space (as a kind of causa-sui). This can clarify the conceptual relationship between space and its formal cause in Newton as well as Newton’s commitment to the spatial extended-ness of all existing beings. While the first two sections of this paper engage with existing scholarly controversies, in the final section the paper argues that the recent focus on emanation has obscured the importance of Newton’s very interesting claims about existence and measurement in “DeGrav”. The paper argues that according to Newton God and other entities have the same kind of quantities of existence; Newton is concerned with how measurement clarifies the way of being of entities. Newton is not claiming that measurement reveals all aspects of an entity. But if we measure something then it exists as a magnitude in space and as a magnitude in time. This is why in DeGrav Newton’s conception of existence really helps to “lay truer foundations of the mechanical sciences.”. (shrink)
This paper follows up a debate as to the consistency of Newtonian cosmology. Whereas Malament (1995) has shown that Newtonian cosmology *is* not inconsistent, to date there has been no analysis of Norton’s claim (1995) that Newtonian cosmology *was* inconsistent prior to certain advances in the 1930s, and in particular prior to Seeliger’s seminal paper of 1895. In this paper I agree that there are assumptions, Newtonian and cosmological in character, and relevant to the real history of science, which are (...) inconsistent. But there are some important corrections to make to Norton’s account. Here I display for the first time the inconsistencies—four in total—in all their detail. Although this extra detail shows there to be several different inconsistencies, it also goes some way towards explaining why they went unnoticed for two hundred years. (shrink)
In this essay, I examine the curved spacetime formulation of Newtonian gravity known as Newton–Cartan gravity and compare it with flat spacetime formulations. Two versions of Newton–Cartan gravity can be identified in the physics literature—a ‘‘weak’’ version and a ‘‘strong’’ version. The strong version has a constrained Hamiltonian formulation and consequently a well-defined gauge structure, whereas the weak version does not (with some qualifications). Moreover, the strong version is best compared with the structure of what Earman (World enough and spacetime. (...) Cambridge: MIT Press) has dubbed Maxwellian spacetime. This suggests that there are also two versions of Newtonian gravity in flat spacetime—a ‘‘weak’’ version in Maxwellian spacetime, and a ‘‘strong’’ version in Neo-Newtonian spacetime. I conclude by indicating how these alternative formulations of Newtonian gravity impact the notion of empirical indistinguishability and the debate over scientific realism. r 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. (shrink)
In two recent papers Perez Laraudogoitia has described a variety of supertasks involving elastic collisions in Newtonian systems containing a denumerably infinite set of particles. He maintains that these various supertasks give examples of systems in which energy is not conserved, particles at rest begin to move spontaneously, particles disappear from a system, and particles are created ex nihilo. An analysis of these supertasks suggests that they involve systems that do not satisfy the mathematical conditions required of Newtonian systems at (...) the time the supertask is due to be completed, or else they rely on the application of the time-reversal transformation to states which are not well-defined. Consequently, it is unjustified to conclude that the paradoxical results are arising from within the framework of Newtonian mechanics. In the last part of this article, we discuss various aspects of the physics of these supertasks. (shrink)
This paper explores the scientific sources behind Kant’s early dynamic theory of matter in 1755, with a focus on two main Kant’s writings: Universal Natural History and Theory of the Heavens and On Fire. The year 1755 has often been portrayed by Kantian scholars as a turning point in the intellectual career of the young Kant, with his much debated conversion to Newton. Via a careful analysis of some salient themes in the two aforementioned works, and a reconstruction of the (...) scientific sources behind them, this paper shows Kant’s debt to an often overlooked scientific tradition, i.e. speculative Newtonian experimentalism. The paper argues that more than the Principia, it was the speculative experimentalism that goes from Newton’s Opticks to Herman Boerhaave’s Elementa chemiae via Stephen Hales’ Vegetable Staticks that played a central role in the elaboration of Kant’s early dynamic theory of matter in 1755. (shrink)
I argue that there is natural relationist interpretation of Newtonian and relativistic non-quantum physics. Although relationist, this interpretation does not fall prey to the traditional objections based on the existence of inertial effects.
I call attention to Berkeley’s treatment of a Newtonian indispensability argument against his own main position. I argue that the presence of this argument marks a significant moment in the history of philosophy and science: Newton’s achievements could serve as a separate and authoritative source of justification within philosophy. This marks the presence of a new kind of naturalism. A long the way, I argue against the claim tha t there is no explicit opposition or distinction between “philosophy” and “science” (...) until the nineteenth century. Finally, I argue for the conceptual unity between Berkeley’s immaterialism and instrumentalism. I argue that Berkeley’s commitment to immaterialism requires his reinterpretation of science and, thus, the adoption of instrumentalism. (shrink)
The Newtonian universe is usually understood to contain two classes of causal factors: universal regularitiesand initial conditions. I demonstrate that,in fact, the Newtonian universe contains no causal factors other thanuniversal regularities: the initial conditions ofany physical system are merely theconsequence of universal regularities acting on previoussystems. It follows that aNewtonian universe lacks the degree of contingency that is usually attributed to it. This is a necessary precondition for maintaining that the Newtonian universe is a block universe that exhibits no temporal (...) development. It follows also that Newtonian physics is inconsistent, since a Newtonian universe as a whole exhibits some properties – such as the total mass of the universe – that are not determined by the laws of Newtonian physics, and that must therefore be considered contingent. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to elucidate the question of whether Newtonian mechanics can be derived from relativity theory. Physicists agree that classical mechanics constitutes a limiting case of relativity theory. By contrast, philosophers of science like Kuhn and Feyerabend affirm that classical mechanics cannot be deduced from relativity theory because of the incommensurability between both theories; thus what we obtain when we take the limit c in relativistic mechanics cannot be Newtonian mechanics sensu stricto. In this paper I (...) focus on the alleged change of reference of the term mass in the transition from one theory to the other. Contradicting Kuhn and Feyerabend, special relativity theory supports the view that the mass of an object is a characteristic property of the object, that it has the same value in whatever frame of reference it is measured, and that it does not depend on whether the object is in motion or at rest. Thus mass preserves the reference through the change of theory, and the existence of a Newtonian limit of relativity theory provides a good example of the rationality of theory change in mathematical physics. (shrink)
“Branching space-times” (BST) is intended as a representation of objective, event-based indeterminism. As such, BST exhibits both a spatio-temporal aspect and an indeterministic “modal” aspect of alternative possible historical courses of events. An essential feature of BST is that it can also represent spatial or space-like relationships as part of its (more or less) relativistic theory of spatio-temporal relations; this ability is essential for the representation of local (in contrast with “global”) indeterminism. This essay indicates how BST might be seen (...) to grow out of Newton’s deterministic and non-relativistic theory by two independent moves: (1) Taking account of indeterminism, and (2) attending to spatio-temporal relationships in a spirit derived from Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Since (1) and (2) are independent, one can see that there is room for four theories: Newtonian determinism, branching time indeterminism, relativistic determinism, and (ﬁnally) branching space-times indeterminism. (shrink)
Supertasks recently discussed in the literature purport to display a failure ofenergy conservation and determinism in Newtonian mechanics. We debatewhether these supertasks are admissible as Newtonian systems, with Earmanand Norton defending the affirmative and Alper and Bridger the negative.
There has recently been a renewed interest in the “force” interpretation of evolutionary biology. In this article, I present the general structure of the arguments for the force interpretation and identify a problem in its overly permissive conditions for being a Newtonian force. I then attempt a solution that (1) helps to illuminate the difference between forces and other types of causes and (2) makes room for random genetic drift as a force. In particular, I argue that forces are not (...) different in kind from other types of causes but rather that forces are situated on a continuum of causes distinguished by their unifying power. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 5185 Helen C. White Hall, Madison, WI 53706; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Among the many controversial contributions of E. A. Milne to cosmology, the only one which is taken seriously today (to the extent that it has been absorbed as a premise in most scientific approaches to the problem of the universe as a totality) is his early suggestion that a formal equivalence may be made between Newtonian and Relativistic cosmology. My own paper suggests that, over and above any logical validity in the alleged equivalence, the actual way in which it has (...) subtly insinuated itself into nearly all contemporary speculation reveals as few things could some of the epistemological foundations that underlie the current assumptions in cosmological science. (shrink)
Newtonian cosmology is logically inconsistent. I show its inconsistency in a rigorous but simple and qualitative demonstration. "Logic driven" and "content driven" methods of controlling logical anarchy are distinguished.
A supertask is a process in which an infinite number of individuated actions are performed in a finite time. A Newtonian supertask is one that obeys Newton''s laws of motion. Such supertasks can violate energy and momentum conservation and can exhibit indeterministic behavior. Perez Laraudogoitia, who proposed several Newtonian supertasks, uses a local, i.e., particle-by-particle, analysis to obtain these and other paradoxical properties of Newtonian supertasks. Alper and Bridger use a global analysis, embedding the system of particles in a Banach (...) space, to determine the origin of the strange behavior. This paper provides a common framework for the discussion of both the local and global methods of analysis. Using this single framework, the areas of disagreement and agreement are made explicit. Further examples of supertasks are proposed to illuminate various aspects of the discussion. (shrink)
“Branching space-times” (BST) is intended as a representation of objective, event-based indeterminism. As such, BST exhibits both a spatio-temporal aspect and an indeterministic “modal” aspect of alternative possible historical courses of events. An essential feature of BST is that it can also represent spatial or space-like relationships as part of its (more or less) relativistic theory of spatio-temporal relations; this ability is essential for the representation of local (in contrast with “global”) indeterminism. This essay indicates how BST might be seen (...) to grow out of Newton’s deterministic and non-relativistic theory by two independent moves: (1) Taking account of indeterminism, and (2) attending to spatio-temporal relationships in a spirit derived from Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Since (1) and (2) are independent, one can see that there is room for four theories: Newtonian determinism, branching time indeterminism, relativistic determinism, and (finally) branching space-times indeterminism. (shrink)
Modern agriculture is subject to a metaphysical as well as an ethical critique. As a casual review of the beliefs associated with food production in the past suggests, modern agriculture is embedded in and informed by the prevailing modern world view, Newtonian Mechanics, which is bankrupt as a scientific paradigm and unsustainable as an agricultural motif. A new holistic, organic world view is emerging from ecology and the new physics marked by four general conceptual features: Each level of organization from (...) atoms to ecosystems (1) exhibits emergent properties, (2) exerts downward causation from whole to part, (3) is a systemically integrated whole, (4) the parts of which are internally related. Organic agriculture has been favourably compared with industrial agriculture by the United States National Academy of Science's Board on Agriculture. Aldo Leopold was among the first to criticize industrial agriculture and to envision a new motif for agriculture informed by ecology. A future post-modern ecological agriculture will help to solve the ethical problems engendered by modern mechanical agriculture. (shrink)
In this essay I argue against I. Bernard Cohen's influential account of Newton's methodology in the Principia: the 'Newtonian Style'. The crux of Cohen's account is the successive adaptation of 'mental constructs' through comparisons with nature. In Cohen's view there is a direct dynamic between the mental constructs and physical systems. I argue that his account is essentially hypothetical-deductive, which is at odds with Newton's rejection of the hypothetical-deductive method. An adequate account of Newton's methodology needs to show how Newton's (...) method proceeds differently from the hypothetical-deductive method. In the constructive part I argue for my own account, which is model based: it focuses on how Newton constructed his models in Book I of the Principia. I will show that Newton understood Book I as an exercise in determining the mathematical consequences of certain force functions. The growing complexity of Newton's models is a result of exploring increasingly complex force functions (intra-theoretical dynamics) rather than a successive comparison with nature (extra-theoretical dynamics). Nature did not enter the scene here. This intra-theoretical dynamics is related to the 'autonomy of the models'. (shrink)
Supertasks recently discussed in the literature purport to display a failure of energy conservation and determinism in Newtonian mechanics. We debate whether these supertasks are admissible as Newtonian systems, with Earman and Norton defending the affirmative and Alper and Bridger the negative.
I argue that, contrary to thestandard view, the Newtonian universe containsno contingency. I do this by arguing (i) thatno contingency is introduced into the Newtonianuniverse by the initial conditions of physicalsystems in the universe, and (ii) that theclaim that the Newtonian universe as a wholehas contingent properties leads to incoherence.This result suggests that Newtonian physics iseither inconsistent or incomplete, since thelaws of Newtonian physics are too weak todetermine all the properties of the Newtonianuniverse uniquely.
In a recent volume of this journal, L. Angel () proposed a collision mechanics leading to such strange results as the possibility that a particle may be in several places at the same time, or the existence of unprepared spatially-separated correlations. I will here show that neither of these results follows from his theory or, if it does, the theory, contrary to what Angel claims, is not a plausible extension of Newtonian collision dynamics. No bilocation No quantum leap No unprepared (...) spatially-separated correlations. (shrink)
In this paper, I examine a number of alternative global structures for Newtonian space-time, and corresponding Newtonian theories of mechanics and gravitation. I argue that since these theories differ only with respect to questions concerning the relative distribution of inertial and gravitational forces, the choice between them is a matter of convention. Therefore, the global structure of Newtonian space-time is also a matter of convention. Since this result is based on a consideration of the nature of inertial and gravitational forces, (...) rather than on general reductionist principles, it is a "limited conventionalist" result. (shrink)
can prevent non-contact interactions in Newtonian collision mechanics. The proposal is weakened by the apparent arbitrariness of what will be shown as the requirement of only an odd number of sets of some ex nihilo-created self-exciting particles. There is, however, an initial condition such that, without the ex nihilo self-exciting particles, either there is a contradictory outcome, or there is a non-contact configuration law, or there are odds versus evens indeterminacies. With the various odds versus evens arbitrarinesses and other such (...) difficulties, there seems to be an ontological unsatisfactoriness in the speed-unbounded Newtonian collision system. Introduction Taking self-excitations very seriously A problematic initial condition Another alternative. (shrink)
In my essay I look at the specifics of the dispute between the Scottish metaphysician Andrew Baxter and the mathematician Colin MacLaurin in an attempt to identify the source or sources of their contradictory, yet in both cases Newtonian, positions regarding occasionalism. After some general introductory remarks about each thinker, I examine the metaphysical implications that Baxter sees as following from Newton's concept of vis inertiæ. Following this, I look at MacLaurin's commitment to the role of sense experience in natural (...) philosophy. Finally, I discuss the different passages from Newton's Opticks on which the two thinkers focus. (shrink)
Aristotle's rule of proportions of the factors of motion, presented in VII 5 of the Physics, characterizes Aristotelian force. Observing that the locomotion to which Aristotle applied the Rule is the motion produced by manual labor, I develop an interpretation of the factors of motion that reveals that Aristotelian force is Newtonian power. An alternate interpretation of the Rule by Toulmin and Goodfield implicitly identifies Aristotelian force with Newtonian force. In order to account for the absence of an acceleration in (...) the rate of forced motion, they incorporate into the Rule the medium's resistance to motion due to viscosity as an additional factor. The resulting interpretations of the original factors of motion lose the exactness the power interpretation grants them. The constant rate of forced motion follows immediately from the power interpretation. It is also compatible with the Rule's description of the motion that is produced by the sum of forces. (shrink)
I argue that the best spacetime setting for Newtonian gravitation (NG) is the curved spacetime setting associated with geometrized Newtonian gravitation (GNG). Appreciation of the ‘Newtonian equivalence principle’ leads us to conclude that the gravitational field in NG itself is a gauge quantity, and that the freely falling frames are naturally identified with inertial frames. In this context, the spacetime structure of NG is represented not by the flat neo-Newtonian connection usually made explicit in formulations, but by the sum of (...) the flat connection and the gravitational field. 1 Introduction2 Newtonian Gravity: The Orthodox Approach3 Newtonian Gravity: Additional Symmetries4 Cosmological Considerations5 A Newtonian Equivalence Principle: Inertial Frames in Newtonian Gravitation6 Theory Equivalence?7 Conclusion. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to elucidate the question of whether Newtonian mechanics can be derived from relativity theory. Physicists agree that classical mechanics constitutes a limiting case of relativity theory. By contrast, philosophers of science like Kuhn and Feyerabend affirm that classical mechanics cannot be deduced from relativity theory because of the incommensurability between both theories; thus what we obtain when we take the limit c → ∞ in relativistic mechanics cannot be Newtonian mechanics sensu stricto. In this (...) paper I focus on the alleged change of reference of the term mass in the transition from one theory to the other. Contradicting Kuhn and Feyerabend, special relativity theory supports the view that the mass of an object is a characteristic property of the object, that it has the same value in whatever frame of reference it is measured, and that it does not depend on whether the object is in motion or at rest. Thus mass preserves the reference through the change of theory, and the existence of a Newtonian limit of relativity theory provides a good example of the rationality of theory change in mathematical physics. (shrink)
Newtonian gravity is modified minimally to obtain a Lorentz covariant theory of gravity in a background flat space. Gravity is assumed to appear as a potential. Constraint Hamiltonian dynamics is used to determine particle trajectories in a manifestly covariant fashion. The resulting theory is significantly different from the general theory of relativity. However, all known experimental results (precession of planetary orbits, bending of the path of light near the sun, and gravitational spectral shift) are still explained by this theory.
Kant's account of Newtonian science in terms of a priori structures of the mind has been generally interpreted as too restrictive. If Newtonian science is an instantiation of the system of categories, then, in order to retain any value, they need to be dynamized in accordance with the development of science beyond Newton. This paper suggests that the restriction in best understood as Kant attempt to provide a primary matrix of sense for any possible natural science, inasmuch as it reflects (...) the "first idea" contained in the Copernican Revolution. (shrink)
The proposal to add the behavioral momentum metaphor to Skinnerian psychology and the use of other borrowed physical explanatory concepts such as velocity and inertial mass has only superficial value. The basic problem is that, in contrast to Newtonian physics, the “laws” do not apply to a significant proportion of the phenomena to be explained, and these evidential discrepancies are ignored, rather than being used to modify the scientific explanations and improve technological applications that are based on those explanations.
The parametrized post-Newtonian (PPN) approximation is generalized to accommodate Rastall's modification of Einstein's theory of gravity, which allows nonzero divergence of the energy-momentum tensor. Rastall's theory is then shown to have consistent field equations, gauge conditions, and the correct Newtonian limit of the equations of motion. The PPN parameters are obtained and shown to agree experimentally with those for the Einstein theory. In light of the nonzero divergence condition, integral conservation laws are investigated and shown to yield conserved energy-momentum and (...) angularmomentum. We conclude that the above generalization of metric theories, within the PPN framework, is a natural extension of the concept of metric theories. (shrink)
Newtonian gravitation is studied from a discrete point of view, in that the dynamical equation is an energy-conserving difference equation. Application is made to planetary-type, nondegenerate three-body problems and several computer examples of perturbed orbits are given.
To what extent is the scientist's endeavor qua scientist influenced by his philosophic image of himself? A preliminary and partial answer to this question is suggested by a study of eight physiological thinkers of the second half of the eighteenth century, a period during which biology was much influenced by the scientific and philosophical ideas of Isaac Newton. At this time, physiologists invoked certain "principles," "properties," and "powers" which were deemed useful as explanatory devices, even though they could not themselves (...) be explained. The use of these devices in physiology was often defended in terms of their supposed similarity to devices used in mathematics and Newtonian physics. The results of this practice are considered critically, partly in the light of current studies of scientific explanation. (shrink)
The present article provides an analysis of the instants of a system that performs a Newtonian supertask. For each instant it studied the possibility of the system having, from the instant in question, more than one possible course of evolution; i.e. the possibility of it being an evolution node. This analysis shows that some supertasks presented as deterministic in Perez Laraudogoitia (2007) are in fact indeterministic and specifies the difficulties ahead in showing the radical indeterminism suggested by Atkinson & Johnson (...) (2009). (shrink)
We give a precise and modern mathematical characterization of the Newtonian spacetime structure (ℕ). Our formulation clarifies the concepts of absolute space, Newton's relative spaces, and absolute time. The concept of reference frames (which are “timelike” vector fields on ℕ) plays a fundamental role in our approach, and the classification of all possible reference frames on ℕ is investigated in detail. We succeed in identifying a Lorentzian structure on ℕ and we study the classical electrodynamics of Maxwell and Lorentz relative (...) to this structure, obtaining the important result that there exists only one intrinsic generalization of the Lorentz force law which is compatible with Maxwell equations. This is at variance with other proposed intrinsic generalizations of the Lorentz force law appearing in the literature. We present also a formulation of Newtonian gravitational theory as a curve spacetime theory and discuss its meaning. (shrink)
Roger Jones asks what Newtonian realists should be realists about, given that there are four empirically equivalent formulations of Newtonian mechanics which have different ontological commitments and explanatory mechanisms. A realist answer is sketched: Newtonians should be realists about what the best metaphysical considerations dictate, where the best metaphysical considerations are those which have yielded the best physics. Metaphysical considerations are required within physics, just as they are required to eliminate idealist and surrealist theories which are empirically equivalent to (...) realist ones. Realists must reject the positivist assumption that empirically equivalent theories are explanatory and evidential equivalents, too. (shrink)
This paper elaborates on the following correspondence theorem (which has been defended and formally proved elsewhere): if theory T has been empirically successful in a domain of applications A, but was superseded later on by a different theory T* which was likewise successful in A, then under natural conditions T contains theoretical expressions which were responsible for T’s success and correspond (in A) to certain theoretical expressions of T*. I illustrate this theorem at hand of the phlogiston versus oxygen theories (...) of combustion, and the classical versus relativistic theories of mass. The ontological consequences of the theorem are worked out in terms of the indirect reference and partial truth. The final section explains how the correspondence theorem may justify a weak version of scientific realism without presupposing the no-miracles argument. (shrink)
The 16th and 17th centuries marked a period of transition from the vitalistic ontology that had dominated Renaissance natural philosophy to the Early Modern mechanistic paradigm endorsed by, among others, the Cartesians and Newtonians. This paper focuses on how the tensions between vitalism and mechanism played themselves out in the context of 16th and 17th century chemistry and chemical philosophy. The paper argues that, within the fields of chemistry and chemical philosophy, the significant transition that culminated in the 18th (...) century Chemical Revolution was not a transition from vitalism to full-blown mechanism. Rather, chemical philosophy shifted from a vitalistic theory of matter and spirits to a naturalistic, physicalistic, and corpuscularian conception of chemical properties and reactions. Despite being naturalistic, physicalistic, and corpuscularian, however, this theory was not fully mechanistic. Special attention is paid to the contributions made by Paracelsus, Sebastien Basso, Jan Baptista van Helmont, and Robert Boyle to this ontological transition. (shrink)
The main point of this paper is to identify a set of interlocking views that became (and still are!) very influential within philosophy in the wake of Newton’s success. These views use the authority of natural philosophy/mechanics to settle debates within philosophy. I label these “Newton’s Challenge.” Newton had some hand in promoting them, but he is not responsible for all of them. My paper, thus, revisits an old theme articulated by A.E. Burt, but I offer new arguments and evidence. (...) The heart of the paper (sections II-III) identifies the core set of related views that constitute “Newton’s Challenge.” In section IIA I draw on two eighteenth century figures (Euler and Musschenbroek) to introduce arguments that give evidence for the existence of “Newton’s Challenge” and distinguish four strands within it. In section IIB I use Berkeley as evidence that something like “Newton’s Challenge” was recognized by philosophical opponents to Newton and I identify in Berkeley’s work five counter-strategies. In section IIC, I identify Newton’s contribution to Newton’s Challenge. In section III, I use the writings by MacLaurin, ’s Gravesande, and Musschenbroek to identify eight arguments that constitute the way “Newton’s Challenge” was articulated and developed in practice by eighteenth century Newtonians. (shrink)