Who let the demon out? Laplace and Boscovich on determinism

Kožnjak, Boris (2015) Who let the demon out? Laplace and Boscovich on determinism. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 51. pp. 42-52. ISSN 0039-3681

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Abstract

In this paper, I compare Pierre-Simon Laplace's celebrated formulation of the principle of determinism in his 1814 Essai philosophique sur les probabilités with the formulation of the same principle offered by Roger Joseph Boscovich in his Theoria philosophiae naturalis, published 56 years earlier. This comparison discloses a striking general similarity between the two formulations of determinism as well as certain important differences. Regarding their similarities, both Boscovich's and Laplace's conceptions of determinism involve two mutually interdependent components—ontological and epistemic—and they are both intimately linked with the principles of causality and continuity. Regarding their differences, however, Boscovich's formulation of the principle of determinism turns out not only to be temporally prior to Laplace's but also—being founded on fewer metaphysical principles and more rooted in and elaborated by physical assumptions—to be more precise, complete and comprehensive than Laplace's somewhat parenthetical statement of the doctrine. A detailed analysis of these similarities and differences, so far missing in the literature on the history and philosophy of the concept of determinism, is the main goal of the present paper.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Q Science > QC Physics
Depositing User: Institut za filozofiju
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2018 11:35
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2018 11:35
URI: http://eprints.ifzg.hr/id/eprint/812

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