The Logic and Methodology of Science in Early Modern Thought

The Logic and Methodology of Science in Early Modern Thought: Seven Studies

FRED WILSON
Copyright Date: 1999
Pages: 656
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/9781442681651
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  • Book Info
    The Logic and Methodology of Science in Early Modern Thought
    Book Description:

    A persuasive new argument and re-evaluation of the revolution in scientific thought in the 17th and 18th centuries by a senior academic in the history of modern philosophy and the philosophy of science.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8165-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xv-2)

    In the seventeenth century, those who were developing the new science knew very clearly that what they were doing was very different - different in kind - from what had gone before. Galileo knew when he proposed to ignore Aristotelian forces and search instead for general descriptions of how objects move that he was making a major break with tradition. Robert Boyle knew what he was doing when he attacked appeals to the notion of ʻnatureʼ in science: such appeals were at once non-scientific and at the same time a real hindrance to progress in the science that he was...

  5. Study One Establishing the New Science: Rationalist and Empiricist Responses to Aristotle
    (pp. 3-134)

    Rationalists such as Arnauld followed Descartes in taking Aristotleʼs philosophy to be a great hindrance to progress in the sciences. Empiricists followed Bacon, who came to the same evaluation of Aristotle and his successors. Indeed, many of the criticisms raised by rationalists and empiricists were identical. Thus, we find Arnauld, in hisThe Art of Thinking, the ʻPort Royal Logic,ʼ citing Bacon in support of his criticism of the real definitions given by Aristotle for such things as hot and cold.¹ In some measure these shared criticisms were directed at the versions of Aristotelian logic that had been developed by...

  6. Study Two Logic under Attack: The Early Modern Period
    (pp. 135-261)

    I can remember conversations at the University of Toronto in the 1960s in which Thomist philosophers such as A.C. Pegis distinguished their logic, rooted in a realistic metaphysics, from the logic of philosophers like Bertrand Russell, which was rooted in a nominalistic metaphysics. This view can be found stated in Jacques MaritainʼsFormal Logic.¹ It can also be found stated clearly, though in a more pragmatic context, in P. CoffeyʼsScience of Logic.² It seemed clear to me, however, that one could adopt Russellʼs logic and also hold that the properties of things were universals, that is, that they could...

  7. Study Three Berkeleyʼs Metaphysics and Ramist Logic
    (pp. 262-289)

    ʻWhat is truth?ʼ asked Pilate and did not wait for an answer. Aristotle would have told him that ʻ[t]o say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true ...ʼ (Metaphysics, 1011b 27-9).¹ But Aquinas² tells us that

    a house is said to be true that expresses the likeness of the form in the architectʼs mind; and words are said to be true so far as they are the signs of truth...

  8. Study Four Empiricist Inductive Methodology: Hobbes and Hume
    (pp. 290-318)

    It is usually stated that Hobbesʼs methodology of science is purely deductivist and, moreover, an extreme conventionalism in which the premises of the demonstrations of the deductive science are all true by definition. Thus, A.E. Taylor¹ states that ʻ[o]nly ... the truly deductive type of reasoning is rigidly certain and yields perfectly determinate conclusionsʼ (Hobbes, 34-5), while ʻthe ultimate first principles of deductive science are all ...definitions, that is, statements of the meaning ofnamesʼ (36). ʻEverything in science, therefore, turns upon the original definitions; science is merely the correct deduction of the consequences implied in the giving of...

  9. Study Five ʻRules by Which to Judge of Causesʼ before Hume
    (pp. 319-363)

    Humeʼs ʻrules by which to judge of causes and effectsʼ (Treatise, I.II.xv)¹ are divided into two parts by his fourth rule. The first three state the regularity account of causation. This is followed by a rule stating the principle of ʻsame cause / same effect.ʼ The remaining rules state the rules of eliminative induction, in a way that is both accurate and a model of concision. With regard to both parts, Hume makes an original contribution. If we locate this contribution within the context of what had gone before we can begin to grasp both Humeʼs genius and the central...

  10. Study Six Causation and the Argument A Priori for the Existence of a Necessary Being
    (pp. 364-412)

    Demonstrative science was long thought possible in the case at least of the existence of God. Long after Locke had given up the notion of a demonstrative science for most, if not all, of the nature that we know in ordinary experience, including human nature, he continued to defend the notion that we can demonstrate this one existential fact, that God exists.¹ Samuel Clarke agreed with Locke on this issue, restating the argument in his Boyle Lectures². But, of course, it was not just empiricists who continued to defend the argument. For, the very same argument was laid out by...

  11. Study Seven Descartesʼs Defence of the Traditional Metaphysics
    (pp. 413-530)

    Descartes opens his Discourse on Method² with a quotation from Montaigneʼs essays: ʻGood sense is the best distributed thing in the world: for everyone thinks himself so well endowed with it that even those who are the hardest to please in everything else do not usually desire more of it than they possessʼ (Discourse, 1:111 ).³ This reminds the reader that the edifice of knowledge, previously accepted as secure, had been challenged by Montaigne, and that the point of any new method should be to put an end to that challenge. As the discourse proceeds, Descartes clearly accepts the challenge...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 531-574)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 575-596)
  14. Index
    (pp. 597-608)