The concept of causation in Newton’s mechanical and optical work

Steffen Ducheyne, Erik Weber

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.12775/LLP.2007.008

Abstract


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 underlying concept of causation is therefore a mixed interventionist/mechanicist one.

Keywords


Newton, (efficient) causation; "Principia"; "The Opticks"

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References


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