HPS211H1 Lecture Notes - Positivism, Circular Reasoning, Anachronism

History and Philosophy of Science and Technology
Course Code
Curtis Forbes

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HPS LEC 3- Jan 17
1. Newton's Physics- 'mathematical way'; 'system of the world'
2. Newtonianism after Newton- as a physicist; Newton on the continent
3. Newtonianism outside of physics
Newton's Physics
called his method the mathematical way- mix of Baconian and Descartes
form of mechanics but he still liked Descartes; if something couldn't be explained quantitatively
observation and experiment rather than conjecture
analysis and composition is how he describes his method
studying nature took part of two phases- you do your analysis and draw out general laws
through induction (Bacon) and in that induction you must make sure you are phrasing these
laws quantitatively through language of maths
3 laws of motion
then you do composition- making predictions of certain outcomes; forming subsidiary laws
based on 3 laws of motion
in contrast to Descartes, deduction from the phenomena; strictly speaking he is actually
inducing laws from the phenomena;
deduction is conceived of necessarily truth preserving inference- premise is true then conclusion
must be true; induction is adding to the inference
Newton denied the role of hypotheses in methods which Cartesians were using
postulated the universal law of gravity
"I have not as of yet deduce from phenomena for these properties of gravity...."- discoverered
attractive force between all bodies, done this through observation and experiment; done this
for terrestrial and celestial bodies;
Descartes- only way to explain anything is through concept of contact between rigid bodies;
Newton ok with this concept but did not adhere to such mechanical explanations in explaining
"Rules of Reasoning in Philosophy"- while he has his method of analysis and composition he still
had some tenets of mechanical philosophy; space as a container
Newton's rules check on internet
1. Nature is simple treated as such; not clear the God would make universe in a simple way but
for Newton- natural philosophy must be done seeing world as simple; 2. don't overcomplicate-
come up with a general law; 3. universal bodies that we encounter as fundamental of all things,
everything we can think of as an object has some extension in space. 4. in experimental
philosophy, induction from phenomena must be made- formulate through general induction
through your observation, use it as your general law until some phenomena causes you to
change it, some counterexample as impetus to change
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