Natural laws and divine agency in the later seventeenth century


Authors
Dennis Des Chene
Washington University in St. Louis
Abstract
It is a commonplace that one of the primary tasks of natural science is to discover the laws of nature. Those who don’t think that nature has laws will of course disagree; but of those who do, most will be in accord with Armstrong when he writes that natural science, having discovered the kinds and properties of things, should “state the laws” which those things “obey” (Armstrong What is a law 3). No Scholastic philosopher would have included the discovery of the laws of nature among the aims of natural philosophy. Regularities there may be in an Aristotelian world, but the focus of inquiry is elsewhere —on natural kinds, powers, qualities, temperaments. There must have been a change of view at some point. The obvious period in which to look for that change is that period in which the notion of law came to the fore in natural philosophy: the seventeenth century. Though there has been occasional dissension, that notion has been with us ever since. Scientists are quite happy to talk about all sorts of laws, from the basic laws of conservation to “phenomenological” and statistical laws. Philosophers, on the other hand, have found them puzzling. The character attributed to laws seems to be in need of explanation, and yet no convincing explanation is at hand; indeed, as I have mentioned, some philosophers think that natural science has no laws, or at least that it doesn’t need to appeal to them to accomplish its ends. My suggestion will be that the configuration of features characteristic..
Keywords natural law  early modern  theism  natural philosophy  laws of nature
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,133
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

Analytics

Added to PP index
2010-04-08

Total views
167 ( #62,974 of 2,448,286 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #450,727 of 2,448,286 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes