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Laws and Powers in the Frame of Nature

Psillos, Stathis (2016) Laws and Powers in the Frame of Nature. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The aim of this paper is to revisit the major arguments of the seventeenth
century debate concerning laws and powers. Its primary points are two. First,
though the dominant conception of nature was such that there was no room for
power in bodies, the very idea that laws govern the behaviour of (bits of) matter
in motion brought with it the following issue, which came under sharp focus in
the work of Leibniz: how possibly can passive matter, devoid of power, obey laws?
Though Leibniz’s answer was to re-introduce powers, two radically different
conceptualisations of the relation between laws and powers became available
after him. Hume denied powers altogether, whereas Newton thought that to
introduce a power is to introduce a law. The second main point will be that
though laws were meant to replace powers, the real dilemma ended up being not
laws vs powers, but rather necessity vs non-necessity in nature. To exploit, an
expression used by Newton, the question was: what is the place of necessity in
the frame of nature?


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Psillos, Stathis
Keywords: laws of nature, powers, necessity, Leibniz, Descartes, Newton
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Depositing User: Stathis Psillos
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2016 15:42
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2016 15:42
Item ID: 12679
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Laws of Nature
Date: 15 October 2016
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/12679

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