Now published: article on Du Châtelet’s Paris Manuscripts by Aaron Wells

"Du Châtelet, induction, and Newton's rules for reasoning"

In a new article in the European Journal of Philosophy, Aaron draws on the Paris Manuscript of Du Châtelet’s Institutions de physique to investigate the development of her views on induction, hypotheses, non-empirical criteria for theory choice, and the partly empirical foundations of metaphysics. The paper also considers neglected connections between her thought and Newton’s methodology for natural science, as expressed in his Regulae Philosophandi or ‘rules of reasoning in (natural) philosophy.’

From the abstract of the article:

I examine Du Châtelet’s methodology for physics and metaphysics through the lens of her engagement with Newton’s Rules for Reasoning in Natural Philosophy. I first show that her early manuscript writings discuss and endorse these Rules. Then, I argue that her famous published account of hypotheses continues to invoke close analogues of Rules 3 and 4, despite various developments in her position. Once relevant experimental evidence and some basic constraints are met, it is legitimate to inductively generalize from observations; general hypotheses can thereafter be assumed as true until contrary experiments show otherwise. I conclude by arguing that this account of induction plays an essential role in her metaphysics, both in an argument for simple substances—which has an inductive premise—and in her attempt to distinguish acceptable and unacceptable metaphysical commitments.



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