Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy

Paperback | January 15, 2013

byWalter Ott

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Some philosophers think physical explanations stand on their own: what happens, happens because things have the properties they do. Others think that any such explanation is incomplete: what happens in the physical world must be partly due to the laws of nature. Causation and Laws of Nature inEarly Modern Philosophy examines the debate between these views from Descartes to Hume. Ott argues that the competing models of causation in the period grow out of the scholastic notion of power. On this Aristotelian view, the connection between cause and effect is logically necessary. Causes are 'intrinsically directed' at what they produce. But when the Aristotelian view is facedwith the challenge of mechanism, the core notion of a power splits into two distinct models, each of which persists throughout the early modern period. It is only when seen in this light that the key arguments of the period can reveal their true virtues and flaws. To make his case, Ott explores such central topics as intentionality, the varieties of necessity, and the nature of relations. Arguing for controversial readings of many of the canonical figures, the book also focuses on lesser-known writers such as Pierre-Sylvain Regis, Nicolas Malebranche, andRobert Boyle.

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Some philosophers think physical explanations stand on their own: what happens, happens because things have the properties they do. Others think that any such explanation is incomplete: what happens in the physical world must be partly due to the laws of nature. Causation and Laws of Nature inEarly Modern Philosophy examines the debate...

Walter Ott holds a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He is the author of Locke's Philosophy of Language (Cambridge University Press, 2004) and is currently assistant professor of philosophy at Virginia Tech.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:274 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:January 15, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199664684

ISBN - 13:9780199664689

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Table of Contents

IntroductionPart I: The Cartesian predicament1. What mechanism isn't2. The rejection of Aristotelianism3. The nude wax: Cartesian ontology4. The laws of nature5. Force6. OccasionalismPart II: The dialectic of occasionalism7. Malebranche and the cognitive model of causation8. Laws and divine volitions9. Causation and explanation10. A scholastic mechanism11. Regis against the occasionalistsPart III: Power and necessity12. 'A dead cadaverous thing'13. Relations and powers14. Boyle's paradox15. Boyle and the concurrentists16. Locke on relations17. Locke on powers: The geometrical model18. Locke's mechanisms19. ConclusionPart IV: Hume20. The Two Humes21. Intentionality22. Necessity23. Relations24. The definition of causation25. Conclusion

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"illuminating, rich and intriguing" --Archiv fuer Geschichte der Philosophie