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Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy$
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Walter Ott

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199570430

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199570430.001.0001

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The Laws of Nature

The Laws of Nature

(p.51) 7 The Laws of Nature
Causation and Laws of Nature in Early Modern Philosophy

Walter Ott (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses earlier conceptions (such as those of Aristotle and Aquinas) of the world as law‐governed, zeroing in on Descartes's contribution. In earlier views, we do not find the suggestion that laws are particular principles that might explain individual physical events. Nevertheless, Descartes retains a key feature of the legalistic metaphor: his laws depend on a lawgiver and are to that extent arbitrary. They swing entirely free from the natures of the objects whose behavior they prescribe.

Keywords:   Aristotle, Aquinas, law, legal metaphor, Descartes

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