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Newton: from certainty to probability?

Walsh, Kirsten (2017) Newton: from certainty to probability? [Preprint]

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Abstract

Newton’s earliest publications contained scandalous epistemological claims: not only did he aim for certainty, but claimed success! Some commentators argue that Newton ultimately gave up claims of certainty in favour 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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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
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Walsh, Kirsten
Keywords: Newton, Rule 4, certainty, query 31
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Depositing User: Dr Kirsten Walsh
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 16:21
Last Modified: 11 Jun 2018 16:21
Item ID: 14773
Subjects: General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
Date: 2017
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14773

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