Journal of the History of Philosophy 51 (3):489-491 (2013)

Katherine Dunlop
University of Texas at Austin
Not a full treatment of Newton’s scientific method, this book discusses his optical research only in passing (342–43). Its subtitle better indicates its scope: it focuses narrowly on the argument for universal gravitation in Book III of the Principia. The philosophical project is to set out an “ideal of empirical success” realized by the argument. Newton claims his method is to “deduce” propositions “from phenomena.” On Harper’s interpretation Newton’s phenomena are patterns of data, which are used to measure “parameters” by which the theory explains them. An example is Kepler’s Area Rule. Its fit to the data confirms the hypothesis that the force maintaining a body in orbit is directed toward the ..
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DOI 10.1353/hph.2013.0052
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