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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.
Keywords Laplace  Boscovich  determinism  causality  continuity  principle of sufficient reason
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2015.03.002
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References found in this work BETA

The Dome: An Unexpectedly Simple Failure of Determinism.John D. Norton - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (5):786-798.
Norton’s Slippery Slope.David B. Malament - 2008 - Philosophy of Science 75 (5):799-816.
The Norton Dome and the Nineteenth Century Foundations of Determinism.Marij van Strien - 2014 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (1):167-185.
The Principle of Continuity and Leibniz's Theory of Consciousness.Larry M. Jorgensen - 2009 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 47 (2):pp. 223-248.
What Counts as a Newtonian System? The View From Norton’s Dome.Samuel Craig Fletcher - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):275-297.

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Citations of this work BETA

God and Boscovich’s Demon.Boris Kožnjak - 2021 - The European Legacy 27 (1):39-56.

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