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Descartes on Causation$
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Tad M. Schmaltz

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195327946

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195327946.001.0001

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Causation in Physics

Causation in Physics

(p.87) 3 Causation in Physics
Descartes on Causation

Tad M. Schmaltz (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter concerns the treatment in Descartes's physics of body-body interaction. There is an extended argument against an occasionalist reading of his physics, on which God is the only real cause of changes in motion due to collision. The alternative view here is that Descartes offers a “conservationist” physics on which God's contribution to such changes is restricted to a “concursus” that consists simply in the continued creation of a constant total quantity of motion. Local changes in that motion are to be explained by appeal not to this concursus but rather to the features of bodies that correspond to the “forces” that Descartes posits in his physics.

Keywords:   Descartes, causation, physics, body-body interaction, occasionalism, conservationism, quantity of motion, force

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