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Analogy and falsification in Descartes’ physics

Manning, Gideon (2012) Analogy and falsification in Descartes’ physics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 43 (2). pp. 402-411. ISSN 0039-3681. doi:10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.02.003.

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In this paper I address Descartes’ use of analogy in physics. First, I introduce Descartes’ hypothetical reasoning, distinguishing between analogy and hypothesis. Second, I examine in detail Descartes’ use of analogy to both discover causes and add plausibility to his hypotheses—even though not always explicitly stated, Descartes’ practice assumes a unified view of the subject matter of physics as the extension of bodies in terms of their size, shape and the motion of their parts. Third, I present Descartes’ unique “philosophy of analogy”, where the absence of analogy serves as a criterion for falsifying proposed explanations in physics. I conclude by defending Descartes’ philosophy of analogy by appeal to the value scientists assign to simplicity in their explanations.

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Additional Information:© 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Received 19 July 2011. Revised 24 January 2012. Available online 19 March 2012. I have benefited from the advice and constructive suggestions of many friends and colleagues in writing this paper. I wish to thank Mordechai Feingold, Daniel Garber, Kristine Haugen, Chris Hitchcock, Mac Pigman and Jim Woodward, all of whom discussed issues related to analogy with me. I also wish to thank Roger Ariew, Paul Bartha, Mary Domski, Melissa Pastrana and two anonymous referees for this journal, all of whom provided me with significant feedback on the manuscript. I am very grateful to all the people mentioned here.
Subject Keywords:René Descartes; Analogy; Hypothesis; Falsification; Explanation
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120613-103542875
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Official Citation:Gideon Manning, Analogy and falsification in Descartes’ physics, Studies In History and Philosophy of Science Part A, Volume 43, Issue 2, June 2012, Pages 402-411, ISSN 0039-3681, 10.1016/j.shpsa.2012.02.003.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:31891
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:14 Jun 2012 17:59
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 20:01

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