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  1. Leibniz on Natural Teleology and the Laws of Optics.Jeffrey K. Mcdonough - 2009 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 78 (3):505-544.
    This essay examines one of the cornerstones of Leibniz's defense of teleology within the order of nature. The first section explores Leibniz's contributions to the study of geometrical optics, and argues that his "Most Determined Path Principle" or "MDPP" allows him to bring to the fore philosophical issues concerning the legitimacy of teleological explanations by addressing two technical objections raised by Cartesians to non-mechanistic derivations of the laws of optics. The second section argues that, by drawing on laws such as (...)
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  • Leibniz's Two Realms Revisited.Jeffrey K. McDonough - 2008 - Noûs 42 (4):673-696.
    Leibniz speaks, in a variety of contexts, of there being two realms—a "kingdom of power or efficient causes" and "a kingdom of wisdom or final causes." This essay explores an often overlooked application of Leibniz's famous "two realms doctrine." The first part turns to Leibniz's work in optics for the roots of his view that nature can be seen as being governed by two complete sets of equipotent laws, with one set corresponding to the efficient causal order of the world, (...)
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  • Leibniz's Optics and Contingency in Nature.Jeffrey K. McDonough - 2010 - Perspectives on Science 18 (4):432-455.
    Leibniz’s mature philosophical understanding of the laws of nature emerges rather suddenly in the late 1670’s to early 1680’s and is signaled by his embrace of three central theses.1 The first, what I’ll call the thesis of Contingency, suggests that the laws of nature are not only contingent, but, in some sense, paradigmatically contingent; they are supposed to provide insight into the very nature of contingency as Leibniz comes to understand it. The second, what I’ll call the thesis of Providence, (...)
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  • Physico-Mathematics and the Search for Causes in Descartes' Optics—1619–1637.John A. Schuster - 2012 - Synthese 185 (3):467-499.
    One of the chief concerns of the young Descartes was with what he, and others, termed “physico-mathematics”. This signalled a questioning of the Scholastic Aristotelian view of the mixed mathematical sciences as subordinate to natural philosophy, non explanatory, and merely instrumental. Somehow, the mixed mathematical disciplines were now to become intimately related to natural philosophical issues of matter and cause. That is, they were to become more ’physicalised’, more closely intertwined with natural philosophising, regardless of which species of natural philosophy (...)
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