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Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy

Oxford University Press (2009)

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  1. Imagination, Metaphysics, Mathematics: Descartes’s Arguments for the Vortex Hypothesis.Mary Domski - 2019 - Synthese 196 (9):3505-3526.
    In this paper, I examine the manner in which Descartes defends his Vortex Hypothesis in Part III of the Principles of Philosophy, and expand on Ernan McMullin’s characterization of the methodology that Descartes uses to support his planetary system. McMullin illuminates the connection between the deductive method of Part III and the method Descartes uses in earlier portions of the Principles, and he brings needed light to the role that imaginative constructions play in Descartes’s explanations of the phenomena. I develop (...)
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  • Laws and Powers in the Frame of Nature.Stathis Psillos - unknown
    The aim of this paper is to revisit the major arguments of the seventeenth century debate concerning laws and powers. Its primary points are two. First, though the dominant conception of nature was such that there was no room for power in bodies, the very idea that laws govern the behaviour of matter in motion brought with it the following issue, which came under sharp focus in the work of Leibniz: how possibly can passive matter, devoid of power, obey laws? (...)
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  • A Gradual Reformation: Empirical Character and Causal Powers in Kant.Jonas Jervell Indregard - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (5):662-683.
    According to Kant each person has an empirical character, which is ultimately grounded in one’s free choice. The popular Causal Laws interpretation of empirical character holds that it consists of the causal laws governing our psychology. I argue that this reading has difficulties explaining moral change, the ‘gradual reformation’ of our empirical character: Causal laws cannot change and hence cannot be gradually reformed. I propose an alternative Causal Powers interpretation of empirical character, where our empirical character consists of our mind’s (...)
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  • Du Châtelet on Freedom, Self-Motion, and Moral Necessity.Julia Jorati - 2019 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (2):255-280.
    This paper explores the theory of freedom that Emilie du Châtelet advances in her essay “On Freedom.” Using contemporary terminology, we can characterize this theory as a version of agent-causal compatibilism. More specifically, the theory has the following elements: (a) freedom consists in the power to act in accordance with one’s choices, (b) freedom requires the ability to suspend desires and master passions, (c) freedom requires a power of self-motion in the agent, and (d) freedom is compatible with moral necessity (...)
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  • Do Categorical Properties Confer Dispositions on Their Bearers?Vassilis Livanios - 2018 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 32 (2):61-82.
    Categorical Monism (that is, the view that all fundamental natural properties are purely categorical) has recently been challenged by a number of philosophers. In this paper, I examine a challenge which can be based on Gabriele Contessa’s [10] defence of the view that only powers can confer dispositions. In his paper Contessa argues against what he calls the Nomic Theory of Disposition Conferral (NTDC). According to NTDC, in each world in which they exist, (categorical) properties confer specific dispositions on their (...)
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  • The Case Against Powers.Walter Ott - 2021 - In Stathis Psillos, Benjamin Hill & Henrik Lagerlund (eds.), Causal Powers in Science: Blending Historical and Conceptual Perspectives. Oxford University Press. pp. 149-167.
    Powers ontologies are currently enjoying a resurgence. This would be dispiriting news for the moderns; in their eyes, to imbue bodies with powers is to slide back into the scholastic slime from which they helped philosophy crawl. I focus on Descartes’s ‘little souls’ argument, which points to a genuine and, I think persisting, defect in powers theories. The problem is that an Aristotelian power is intrinsic to whatever has it. Once this move is accepted, it becomes very hard to see (...)
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  • The Dispositionalist Deity: How God Creates Laws and Why Theists Should Care.Ben Page - 2015 - Zygon 50 (1):113-137.
    How does God govern the world? For many theists “laws of nature” play a vital role. But what are these laws, metaphysically speaking? I shall argue that laws of nature are not external to the objects they govern, but instead should be thought of as reducible to internal features of properties. Recent work in metaphysics and philosophy of science has revived a dispositionalist conception of nature, according to which nature is not passive, but active and dynamic. Disposition theorists see particulars (...)
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  • Essence and Possibility in the Leibniz‐Arnauld Correspondence.Eric Stencil - 2016 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 97 (1):2-26.
    In the 1680s, Gottfried Leibniz and Antoine Arnauld engaged in a philosophically rich correspondence. One issue they discuss is modal metaphysics – questions concerning necessity, possibility, and essence. While Arnauld's contributions to the correspondence are considered generally astute, his contributions on this issue have not always received a warm treatment. I argue that Arnauld's criticisms of Leibniz are sophisticated and that Arnauld offers his own Cartesian account in its place. In particular, I argue that Arnauld offers an account of possibility (...)
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  • Sublating the Free Will Problematic: Powers, Agency and Causal Determination.Ruth Groff - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):179-200.
    I argue that realism about causal powers sublates the passivist, Humean-inflected free will problematic. In the first part of the paper I show that adopting what I call ‘powers-non-determinism’ reconfigures the conceptual terrain with respect to the causation component of the contemporary problematic. In part two I show how adopting ‘powers-non-determinism’ significantly alters the nature of the discussion with respect to the agency component of the problematic. In part three I compare ‘powers-non-determinism’ to an otherwise- Humean agent causal position.
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  • Divine Action and God’s Immutability: A Historical Case Study On How To Resist Occasionalism.Andrea Sangiacomo - 2015 - European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (4):115--135.
    Today’s debates present ”occasionalism’ as the position that any satisfying account of divine action must avoid. In this paper I discuss how a leading Cartesian author of the end of the seventeenth century, Pierre-Sylvain Régis, attempted to avoid occasionalism. Régis’s case is illuminating because it stresses both the difficulties connected with the traditional alternatives to occasionalism and also those aspects embedded in the occasionalist position that should be taken into due account. The paper focuses on Régis’s own account of secondary (...)
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  • Explanatory Distance.Elanor Taylor - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    When a train operator tells us that our train will be late ‘because of delays’, their attempt at explanation fails because there is insufficient distance between the explanans and the explanandum. In this paper, I motivate and defend an account of ‘explanatory distance’, based on the idea that explanations give information about dependence. I show that this account offers useful resources for addressing problem cases, including recent debates about grounding explanation, and the historical case of Molière’s dormitive virtue.
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  • ‘Archetypes Without Patterns’: Locke on Relations and Mixed Modes.Walter Ott - 2017 - Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 99 (3):300-325.
    John Locke’s claims about relations (such as cause and effect) and mixed modes (such as beauty and murder) have been controversial since the publication of the Essay. His earliest critics read him as a thoroughgoing anti-realist who denies that such things exist. More charitable readers have sought to read Locke’s claims away. Against both, I argue that Locke is making ontological claims, but that his views do not have the absurd consequences his defenders fear. By examining Locke’s texts, as well (...)
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  • Locke and the Real Problem of Causation.Walter Ott - 2015 - Locke Studies 15:53-77.
    Discussions of John Locke’s theory of causation tend, understandably, to focus on the related notion of power and in particular the dialectic with David Hume. But Locke faces a very different threat, one that is internal to his view. For he argues both that causation is a relation and that relations are not real. The obvious conclusion is intolerable. And yet the premises, I argue, are unassailable. Building on an interpretation of Locke’s treatment of relations I have developed elsewhere, I (...)
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  • Liberty, Necessity and the Foundations of Hume’s ‘Science of Man’.Tamás Demeter - 2012 - History of the Human Sciences 25 (1):15-31.
    In this article I suggest that section VIII of Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding could be read as a contribution to the foundational issues of a characteristic 18th-century enterprise, namely the ‘science of man’. More specifically, it can be read as a summary of his attempt to place this science on an experimental footing, with an awareness of the lessons he has drawn in the previous sections of the Enquiry. This interpretation fits with an overall reading of the work as (...)
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  • Hume on What There Is.John H. Dreher - 2020 - Open Journal of Philosophy 10 (2):243-265.
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  • The Certainty, Modality, and Grounding of Newton’s Laws.Zvi Biener & Eric Schliesser - 2017 - The Monist 100 (3):311-325.
    Newton began his Principia with three Axiomata sive Leges Motus. We offer an interpretation of Newton’s dual label and investigate two tensions inherent in his account of laws. The first arises from the juxtaposition of Newton’s confidence in the certainty of his laws and his commitment to their variability and contingency. The second arises because Newton ascribes fundamental status both to the laws and to the bodies and forces they govern. We argue the first is resolvable, but the second is (...)
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  • Locke's Ontology of Relations.Samuel C. Rickless - 2017 - Locke Studies 17:61-86.
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  • Hume, the Philosophy of Science and the Scientific Tradition.Matias Slavov - 2018 - In Angela Coventry & Alex Sager (eds.), The Humean Mind. New York: pp. 388-402.
    Although the main focus of Hume’s career was in the humanities, his work also has an observable role in the historical development of natural sciences after his time. To show this, I shall center on the relation between Hume and two major figures in the history of the natural sciences: Charles Darwin (1809–1882) and Albert Einstein (1879–1955). Both of these scientists read Hume. They also found parts of Hume’s work useful to their sciences. Inquiring into the relations between Hume and (...)
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  • Hipótesis y certeza moral: la crítica de Descartes a las causas eficientes.Sergio García Rodríguez - 2017 - Eidos: Revista de Filosofía de la Universidad Del Norte 27:174-198.
    RESUMEN La interpretación habitual de Descartes sostiene que la nueva ciencia cartesiana es resultado del remplazo, en las explicaciones científicas, de las causas finales y formales por las causas eficientes. Si bien dicha afirmación en líneas generales es correcta, se ha tendido a asumir que las causas eficientes no entrañan problema alguno. Este artículo desea cuestionar dicha asunción, poniendo de manifiesto una serie de problemáticas concernientes a la cognoscibilidad de las causas eficientes. ABSTRACT The common interpretation of Descartes argues that (...)
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  • Moving Cartesian Bodies.Tyler Doggett - manuscript
    Argues that Descartes's commitment to mind-body causation leads to a commitment to body-body causation.
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  • Two Concepts of Law of Nature.Brendan Shea - 2013 - Prolegomena 12 (2):413-442.
    I argue that there are at least two concepts of law of nature worthy of philosophical interest: strong law and weak law. Strong laws are the laws investigated by fundamental physics, while weak laws feature prominently in the “special sciences” and in a variety of non-scientific contexts. In the first section, I clarify my methodology, which has to do with arguing about concepts. In the next section, I offer a detailed description of strong laws, which I claim satisfy four criteria: (...)
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  • The Idea of Power and Locke's Taxonomy of Ideas.Patrick J. Connolly - 2017 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 95 (1):1-16.
    Locke's account of the idea of power is thought to be seriously problematic. Commentators allege that the idea of power causes problems for Locke's taxonomy of ideas, that it is defined circularly, and that, contrary to Locke's claims, it cannot be acquired in experience. This paper defends Locke's account. Previous commentators have assumed that there is only one idea of power. But close attention to Locke's text, combined with background features of his theory of ideas, supports the drawing of a (...)
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  • Concepts of Law of Nature.Brendan Shea - 2011 - Dissertation, University of Illinois
    Over the past 50 years, there has been a great deal of philosophical interest in laws of nature, perhaps because of the essential role that laws play in the formulation of, and proposed solutions to, a number of perennial philosophical problems. For example, many have thought that a satisfactory account of laws could be used to resolve thorny issues concerning explanation, causation, free-will, probability, and counterfactual truth. Moreover, interest in laws of nature is not constrained to metaphysics or philosophy of (...)
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  • Louis de la Forge.Desmond Clarke - forthcoming - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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