Article ID: CBB547913865

Unnatural acts: The transition from Natural Principles to Laws of Nature in Early Modern science (2020)


This paper's aim is to explain the transition that occurred during the Early Modern period, from Principles of Nature to Laws of Nature. Natural Principles are taken to be innate to substances and arise from their natures, while Laws of Nature are external and imposed from without. The paper takes the view that to explain this transition, one needs to examine the history of philosophical theories of substantial action. It argues that during the late Middle Ages and in the Early Modern era, philosophers began to disentangle substantial actions from the nature of substances. This process of disentangling action eventually led to the concept of Laws of Nature, according to which laws compel a body to act in a certain way even though its nature does not.

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Authors & Contributors
Hüttemann, Andreas
Pessin, Andrew
Steigerwald, Joan
Alexandrescu, Vlad
Theis, Robert
Burns, Tony
Journal of the History of Philosophy
European Romantic Review
Journal of the History of Ideas
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Foundations of Science
Annals of Science: The History of Science and Technology
Oxford University Press
Franz Steiner Verlag
Georg Olms Verlag
Natural philosophy
Philosophy of science
Natural laws
Science and religion
Kant, Immanuel
Newton, Isaac
Boyle, Robert
Descartes, René
Hobbes, Thomas
Time Periods
17th century
Early modern
16th century
18th century
Great Britain

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