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The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of SensibilityScience and the Shaping of Modernity, 1680-1760$
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Stephen Gaukroger

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199594931

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199594931.001.0001

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Explaining the Phenomena

Explaining the Phenomena

(p.187) 5 Explaining the Phenomena
The Collapse of Mechanism and the Rise of Sensibility

Stephen Gaukroger (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines three examples of non‐reductionist natural philosophy, something supported, at a philosophical level, by Locke's anti‐reductionist approach. The first is John Ray's rejection of the ideas that there is a single basis for botanical classification. The second is Stephen Gray's phenomenological account of electrical conductivity, which makes no attempt to account for the phenomena in terms of underlying corpuscular activity. The third is Étienne Geoffroy's phenomenological account of chemical combination, which likewise makes no attempt to account for the phenomena in terms of underlying corpuscular activity. The chapter concludes with a discussion of horizontal versus vertical forms of explanation.

Keywords:   John Ray, botany, Stephen Gray, electricity, Étienne Geoffroy, chemistry, scientific reduction, phenomenological explanation

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