Chapter

Explaining the Phenomena

Stephen Gaukroger

in The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199594931
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595745 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199594931.003.0006
Explaining the Phenomena

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This chapter examines three examples of non‐reductionist natural philosophy, something supported, at a philosophical level, by Locke's anti‐reductionist approach. The first is John Ray's rejection of the ideas that there is a single basis for botanical classification. The second is Stephen Gray's phenomenological account of electrical conductivity, which makes no attempt to account for the phenomena in terms of underlying corpuscular activity. The third is Étienne Geoffroy's phenomenological account of chemical combination, which likewise makes no attempt to account for the phenomena in terms of underlying corpuscular activity. The chapter concludes with a discussion of horizontal versus vertical forms of explanation.

Keywords: John Ray; botany; Stephen Gray; electricity; Étienne Geoffroy; chemistry; scientific reduction; phenomenological explanation

Chapter.  19023 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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