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Abstract: Newton’s Principia introduces four rules of reasoning for natural philosophy. Although useful, there is a concern about whether Newton’s rules guarantee truth. After redirecting the discussion from truth to validity, I show that these rules are valid insofar as they fulfill Goodman’s criteria for inductive rules and Newton’s own methodological program of experimental philosophy; provided that cross-checks are used prior to applications of rule 4 and immediately after applications of rule 2 the following activities are pursued: (1) research addressing observations that systematically deviate from theoretical idealizations and (2) applications of theory that safeguard ongoing research from proceeding down a garden path.
Comment: A good examination of the relationship of scientific practices to truth, put in a historical context. Would be useful in a history and philosophy of science course.Export citation in BibTeX formatExport text citationView this text on PhilPapersExport citation in Reference Manager formatExport citation in EndNote formatExport citation in Zotero format
Spencer, Quayshawn. Do Newton’s Rules of Reasoning Guarantee Truth … Must They?
2004, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 35(4): 759-782.
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