Newton's Regulae Philosophandi

In Chris Smeenk & Eric Schliesser (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Isaac Newton. Oxford University Press (2018)
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Newton’s Regulae philosophandi—the rules for reasoning in natural philosophy—are maxims of causal reasoning and induction. This essay reviews their significance for Newton’s method of inquiry, as well as their application to particular propositions within the Principia. Two main claims emerge. First, the rules are not only interrelated, they defend various facets of the same core idea: that nature is simple and orderly by divine decree, and that, consequently, human beings can be justified in inferring universal causes from limited phenomena, if only fallibly. Second, the rules make substantive ontological assumptions on which Newton’s argument in the Principia relies.
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