From Causes to Laws

Tad M. Schmaltz

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Early Modern Europe

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199556137
Published online May 2011 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

From Causes to Laws

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This article examines the transition from causes to laws in research during the early modern period in Europe. It discusses Stillman Drake's claim that the search for causes of events in nature that guided science from the time of Aristotle was superseded at the dawn of modern science starting with the work of Galileo. However, there are complications for the suggestion that there was a process by which causes gave way to laws in science. This suggests that Drake's remark that there has been a progression in modern science from causes to laws may suggest that there was a decisive and permanent transition to Bishop Berkeley's view that explanation in terms of scientific laws involves a mere subsumption of particular events under inductive generalizations, as opposed to an inference to metaphysically robust causal structures.

Keywords: causes; laws; early modern period; Europe; Stillman Drake; Aristotle; Galileo; Bishop Berkeley

Article.  8938 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; History of Western Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science

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