In Rodolfo Garau & Pietro Omodeo (eds.), Contingency and Natural Order in Early Modern Science. Springer Verlag. pp. 9-25 (2019)

Pietro Daniel Omodeo
University of Venice
In a famous inaugural speech delivered at the University of Zürich on 9 December 1922, What is a natural law?, Erwin Schrödinger pointed out the difficulty that the pioneers of quantum physics encountered in their attempt to introduce a nondeterministic conception of physical laws. Schrödinger defended a vision according to which natural regularities are the statistic result of particle interactions occurring by chance. Hence, the idea that nature is determined by necessity appeared to him as a sort of long-lived philosophical prejudice which was no longer supported by the most recent scientific advancements and which he thus intended to put into question. In his view, the strength behind the understanding of the physical world as absolutely necessitated stemmed from the authority of a millenary philosophical tradition:From where does the general, widespread belief in the absolute causal determinacy of molecular events and the conviction of the unthinkability of the contrary originate? Indeed, from the inherited millenary habit to think causally, which makes an undetermined event, an absolute, primary accident, appear as perfect nonsense to us.
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DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-67378-3_2
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