•  500
    This article seeks to provide a historically well-informed analysis of an important post-Newtonian area of research in experimental physics between 1798 and 1898, namely the determination of the mean density of the earth and, by the end of the nineteenth century, the gravitational constant. Traditionally, research on these matters is seen as a case of “puzzle solving.” In this article, the author shows that such focus does not do justice to the evidential significance of eighteenth- and nineteen…Read more
  •  425
    Newton’s immensely famous, but tersely written, General Scholium is primarily known for its reference to the argument of design and Newton’s famous dictum “hypotheses non fingo”. In the essay at hand, I shall argue that this text served a variety of goals and try to add something new to our current knowledge of how Newton tried to accomplish them. The General Scholium highlights a cornucopia of features that were central to Newton’s natural philosophy in general: matters of experimentation, meth…Read more
  •  149
    In this essay, I call attention to Kant’s and Whewell’s attempt to provide bridging principles between a priori principles and scientific laws. Part of Kant’s aim in the Opus postumum (ca. 1796-1803) was precisely to bridge the gap between the metaphysical foundations of natural science (on the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786) see section 1) and physics by establishing intermediary concepts or ‘Mittelbegriffe’ (henceforth this problem is referred to as ‘the bridging-problem’). …Read more
  •  108
    Whewell’s tidal researches: scientific practice and philosophical methodology
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (1): 26-40. 2010.
    Primarily between 1833 and 1840, William Whewell attempted to accomplish what natural philosophers and scientists since at least Galileo had failed to do: to provide a systematic and broad-ranged study of the tides and to attempt to establish a general scientific theory of tidal phenomena. I document the close interaction between Whewell’s philosophy of science and his scientific practice as a tidologist. I claim that the intertwinement between Whewell’s methodology and his tidology is more fund…Read more
  •  106
    Towards an Ontology of Scientific Models
    Metaphysica 9 (1): 119-127. 2008.
    Scientific models occupy centre stage in scientific practice. Correspondingly, in recent literature in the philosophy of science, scientific models have been a focus of research. However, little attention has been paid so far to the ontology of scientific models. In this essay, I attempt to clarify the issues involved in formulating an informatively rich ontology of scientific models. Although no full-blown theory—containing all ontological issues involved—is provided, I make several distinction…Read more
  •  104
    Galileo’s Interventionist Notion of “Cause‘
    Journal of the History of Ideas 67 (3): 443-464. 2006.
    In this essay, I shall take up the theme of Galileo’s notion of cause, which has already received considerable attention. I shall argue that the participants in the debate as it stands have overlooked a striking and essential feature of Galileo’s notion of cause. Galileo not only reformed natural philosophy, he also – as I shall defend – introduced a new notion of causality and integrated it in his scientific practice. Galileo’s conception of causality went hand in hand with his methodology. It …Read more
  •  102
    Newton on action at a distance and the cause of gravity
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1): 154-159. 2011.
    In this discussion paper, I seek to challenge Hylarie Kochiras’ recent claims on Newton’s attitude towards action at a distance, which will be presented in Section 1. In doing so, I shall include the positions of Andrew Janiak and John Henry in my discussion and present my own tackle on the matter . Additionally, I seek to strengthen Kochiras’ argument that Newton sought to explain the cause of gravity in terms of secondary causation . I also provide some specification on what Kochiras calls ‘Ne…Read more
  •  90
    Some Worries for Norton’s Material Theory of Induction
    Philosophia Naturalis 45 (1): 37-46. 2008.
    In this essay, I take the role as friendly commentator and call attention to three potential worries for John D. Norton’s material theory of induction. I attempt to show that his “principle argument” is based on a false dichotomy, that the idea that facts ultimately derive their license from matters of fact is debatable, and that one of the core implications of his theory is untenable for historical and fundamental reasons
  •  88
    Mathematical Models in Newton’s Principia: A New View of the “Newtonian Style”
    International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19 (1). 2005.
    In this essay I argue against I. Bernard Cohen's influential account of Newton's methodology in the Principia: the 'Newtonian Style'. The crux of Cohen's account is the successive adaptation of 'mental constructs' through comparisons with nature. In Cohen's view there is a direct dynamic between the mental constructs and physical systems. I argue that his account is essentially hypothetical-deductive, which is at odds with Newton's rejection of the hypothetical-deductive method. An adequate acco…Read more
  •  87
    Newton on Action at a Distance
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 52 (4): 675-701. 2014.
    Reasoning without experience is very slippery. A man may puzzle me by arguents [sic] … but I’le beleive my ey experience ↓my eyes.↓ernan mcmullin once remarked that, although the “avowedly tentative form” of the Queries “marks them off from the rest of Newton’s published work,” they are “the most significant source, perhaps, for the most general categories of matter and action that informed his research.”2 The Queries (or Quaestiones), which Newton inserted at the very end of the third book of t…Read more
  •  82
    Understanding Newton’s Argument for Universal Gravitation
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 40 (2): 227-258. 2009.
    In this essay, I attempt to assess Henk de Regt and Dennis Dieks recent pragmatic and contextual account of scientific understanding on the basis of an important historical case-study: understanding in Newton's theory of universal gravitation and Huygens' reception of universal gravitation. It will be shown that de Regt and Dieks' Criterion for the Intelligibility of a Theory, which stipulates that the appropriate combination of scientists' skills and intelligibility-enhancing theoretical virtue…Read more
  •  75
    J.S. Mill’s Canons of Induction: from True Causes to Provisional Ones
    History and Philosophy of Logic 29 (4): 361-376. 2008.
    In this essay, my aim is twofold: to clarify how the late Mill conceived of the certainty of inductive generalizations and to offer a systematic clarification of the limited domain of application of the Mill’s Canons of Induction. I shall argue that Mill’s views on the certainty of knowledge changed overtime and that this change was accompanied by a new view on the certainty of the inductive results yielded by the Canons of Induction. The key message of the later editions of The System of Logic …Read more
  •  74
    Scientific Representations as Limiting Cases
    Erkenntnis 76 (1): 73-89. 2012.
    In this essay, I shall show that the so-called inferential (Suárez 2003 and 2004 ) and interpretational (Contessa 2007 ) accounts of scientific representation are respectively unsatisfactory and too weak to account for scientific representation ( pars destruens ). Along the way, I shall also argue that the pragmatic similarity (Giere 2004 and Giere 2010 ) and the partial isomorphism (da Costa and French 2003 and French 2003 ) accounts are unable to single out scientific representation. In the pa…Read more
  •  63
    J. B. Van helmont's de tempore as an influence on Isaac Newton's doctrine of absolute time
    Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 90 (2): 216-228. 2008.
    Here, I shall argue that Van Helmont needs to be added to the list of sources on which Newton drew when formulating his doctrine of absolute time. This by no means implies that Van Helmont is the factual source of Newton's views on absolute time (I have found no clear-cut evidence in support of this claim). It is by no means my aim to debunk the importance of the other sources, but rather to broaden them. Different authors help to explain different aspects of Newton's conception of absolute time…Read more
  •  59
    The Concept of Causation in Newton's Mechanical and Optical Work
    with Erik Weber
    Logic and Logical Philosophy 16 (4): 265-288. 2007.
    In this essay the authors explore the nature of efficient causal explanation in Newton’s "Principia and The Opticks". It is argued that: (1) In the dynamical explanations of the Principia, Newton treats the phenomena under study as cases of Hall’s second kind of atypical causation. The underlying concept of causation is therefore a purely interventionist one. (2) In the descriptions of his optical experiments, Newton treats the phenomena under study as cases of Hall’s typical causation. The unde…Read more
  •  54
    The philosophical background important to Mill’s theory of induction has two major components: Richard Whately’s introduction of the uniformity principle into inductive inference and the loss of the idea of formal cause.
  •  51
    In this paper I try to capture Newton's notion and practice of unification (I will mainly focus on the Principia). I will use contemporary theories on unification in philosophy of science as analytic tools (Kitcher, Schurz and Salmon). I will argue that Salmon's later work on the topic provides a good starting point to characterize Newton's notion and practice. However, in order to fully grasp Newton's idea and practice of unification, Salmon's model needs to be fleshed out and extended.
  •  49
    Mathematical and philosophical Newton Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-10 DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9520-2 Authors Steffen Ducheyne, Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science, Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, 9000 Ghent, Belgium Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796.
  •  49
    In this paper I will defend a new account of scientific representation. I will begin by looking at the benefits and drawbacks of two recent accounts on scientific representation: Hughes’ DDI account and Suárez’ inferential account. Next I use some of Galileo’s models in the Discorsi as a heuristic tool for a better account of scientific representation. Next I will present my model. The main idea of my account, which I refer to as the pragmatic model of shared characteristics (PMSC), is that a mo…Read more
  •  47
    Pieter van Musschenbroek on laws of nature
    British Journal for the History of Science 50 (4): 637-656. 2017.
    In this article, we discuss the development of the concept of a ‘law’ (of nature) in the work of the Dutch natural philosopher and experimenter Petrus van Musschenbroek (1692–1761). Since Van Musschenbroek is commonly described as one of the first ‘Newtonians’ on the Continent in the secondary literature, we focus more specifically on its relation to Newton’s views on this issue. Although he was certainly indebted to Newton for his thinking on laws (of nature), Van Musschenbroek’s views can be s…Read more
  •  41
    The argument(s) for universal gravitation
    Foundations of Science 11 (4): 419-447. 2006.
    In this paper an analysis of Newton’s argument for universal gravitation is provided. In the past, the complexity of the argument has not been fully appreciated. Recent authors like George E. Smith and William L. Harper have done a far better job. Nevertheless, a thorough account of the argument is still lacking. Both authors seem to stress the importance of only one methodological component. Smith stresses the procedure of approximative deductions backed-up by the laws of motion. Harper stresse…Read more
  •  34
    Whewell, Necessity and The Inductive Sciences: A Philosophical-Systematic Survey
    South African Journal of Philosophy 28 (4): 333-358. 2009.
    In this paper Whewell’s concept of necessity is scrutinized and its historical development is outlined (ca. 1833-1860). Particular attention will be paid to how Whewell interpreted the laws of the inductive sciences as being necessary since the laws of nature are concretizations of the Fundamental Ideas which can be partially described by Axioms
  •  30
    In this paper, I take up the question to what extent and in which sense we can conceive of Johannes Baptista Van Helmont’s (1579-1644) style of experimenting as “modern”. Connected to this question, I shall reflect upon what Van Helmont’s precise contribution to experimental practice was. I will argue - after analysing some of Van Helmont's experiments such as his tree-experiment, ice-experiment, and thermoscope experiment - that Van Helmont had a strong preference to locate experimental designs…Read more
  •  27
    Nowadays, it is a truism that hypotheses and theories play an essential role in scientific practice. This, however, was far from an obvious given in seventeenth-century British natural philosophy. Different natural philosophers had different views on the role and status of hypotheses and theories, ranging from fierce promotion to bold rejection, and to both they ascribed varying meanings and connotations. The guiding idea of this chapter is that, in seventeenth-century British natural philosophy…Read more
  •  26
    In this essay, I provide a Baconian reading of Newton’s Principia. I argue that Newton scientific practice was influenced by Bacon’s methodised idea of induction. My focus will be on Newton’s argument of universal gravitation.
  •  24
    In this essay, I will bring several hitherto neglected sources, which pertain to Petrus van Musschenbroek’s unpublished manuscripts, to the fore. The folios at hand show that Musschenbroek read and actively engaged with Spinoza’s Ethica. More precisely, it will be shown that Musschenbroek held clear-cut anti-Spinozistic convictions.
  •  23
    In this essay, I will scrutinize the differences between Galileo's and Huygens's demonstrations of free fall, which can be found respectively in the Discorsi and the Horologium, from a mathematical, representational and methodological perspective. I argue that more can be learnt from such an analysis than the thesis that Huygens re-styled Galilean mechanics which is a communis opinio. I shall argue that the differences in their approach on free fall highlight a significantly different mathematic…Read more
  •  23
    The flow of Influence: from Newton to Locke.. and Back
    Rivista di Storia Della Filosofia 64 (2): 245-268. 2009.
    The Flow of Influence: From Newton to Locke - and Back- In this essay, the affinity between Locke’s empiricism and Newton’s natural philosophy is scrutinized. Parallels are distinguished from influences. I argue, pace G.A.J. Rogers, that Newton’s doctrine of absolute space and time influenced Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding from the second edition onwards. I also show that Newton used Lockean terminology in his criticism of Cartesianism. It is further argued that Locke’s endorsement…Read more