Du Châtelet on Sufficient Reason and Empirical Explanation by Aaron Wells
Aaron Wells, who is a research fellow at our Center, works on Du Châtelet, D’Epinay, Kant, and other (early) modern thinkers, and has published or forthcoming articles on these figures in Philosophy of Science, Res Philosophica, and Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, among other venues. At the Center for the History of Women Philosophers and Scientist Aaron Wells works on the digital critical edition of the Paris manuscript of Du Châtelet’s Institutions de Physique.
However, in his recent publication in The Southern Journal of Philosophy he argues that a central role of the principle of sufficient reason for Émilie Du Châtelet is to discriminate between better and worse explanations. Her principle of sufficient reason does not play this role for just any conceivable intellect: it specifically enables understanding for minds like ours. She develops this idea in terms of two criteria for the success of our explanations: “understanding how” and “understanding why.” These criteria can respectively be connected to the determinateness and contrastivity of explanations.