Revue de Synthèse 119 (2-3):211-255 (1998)

The History of scepticism from Erasmus to Spinoza is often called upon to support three theses: first, that Descartes had a dogmatic notion of systematic knowledge, and therefore of physics; second, that the hypothetical epistemology of physics which spread during the xviith century was the result of a general sceptical crisis; third, that this epistemology was more successful in England than in France. I reject these three theses: I point first to the tension in Descartes’ works between the ideal of a completely certain science and a physics replete with hypotheses; further, I argue that the use of hypotheses by mechanical philosophers cannot be separated from their conception of physics; finally I show that, at the end of the xviith century, physicists in France as well as in England spoke through hypotheses and I examine different ways of explaining this shared practice. Richard H. Popkin’s book serves therefore as a starting point for insights into the general problem: to what extent and for what reasons some propositions in physics have been presented as hypotheses in the xviith century?
Keywords mechanical philosophy  philosophy of physics  Descartes  hypothesis  Richard H. Popkin   scepticism
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DOI 10.1007/bf03181379
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References found in this work BETA

The Emergence of Probability. [REVIEW]Terrence L. Fine - 1978 - Philosophical Review 87 (1):116.
The Forging of Modern Realism: Clavius and Kepler Against the Sceptics.Nicholas Jardine - 1979 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 10 (2):141.

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Writing and Sentiment: Blaise Pascal, the Vacuum, and the Pensées.Matthew L. Jones - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 32 (1):139-181.

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