Newton: From Certainty to Probability?

Philosophy of Science 84 (5):866-878 (2017)
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Abstract

Newton’s earliest publications contained scandalous epistemological claims: not only did he aim for certainty; he also claimed success. Some commentators argue that Newton ultimately gave up claims of certainty in favor of a high degree of probability. I argue that no such shift occurred. I examine the evidence of a probabilistic shift: a passage from query 23/31 of the Opticks and rule 4 of the Principia. Neither passage supports a probabilistic approach to natural philosophy. The aim of certainty, then, was an enduring feature of Newton’s methodology.

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Author's Profile

Kirsten Walsh
University of Exeter

References found in this work

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1979 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 169 (2):221-222.
Opticks.Isaac Newton - 1704 - Dover Press.

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