Du Châtelet and Descartes on the Role of Hypothesis and Metaphysics in Science

In Eileen O'Neill & Marcy Lascano (eds.), Feminism and the History of Philosophy. Kluwer Academic Publishers (forthcoming)
Authors
Karen Detlefsen
University of Pennsylvania
Abstract
In this chapter, I examine similarities and divergences between Du Châtelet and Descartes on their endorsement of the use of hypotheses in science, using the work of Condillac to locate them in his scheme of systematizers. I conclude that, while Du Châtelet is still clearly a natural philosopher, as opposed to modern scientist, her conception of hypotheses is considerably more modern than is Descartes’, a difference that finds its roots in their divergence on the nature of first principles.
Keywords Du Châtelet, Emilie  Descartes, Rene  experimental philosophy  speculative philosophy  hypothesis  natural philosophy  metaphysics  systems
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