The Development of Kant's Conception of Scientific Explanation

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1978:18 - 30 (1978)
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In the course of his long development, Kant's concept of matter changed somewhat, while his concept of scientific explanation changed considerably. Both developments achieved a coherent integration in Kant's Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Using this developmental background, the present paper argues that the Foundations should be interpreted as an attempted rational reconstruction of the mechanics of Newton and Euler. Kant attempted to do this by constructing a concept of matter that would confer a Leibnizian intelligibility on Newtonian mechanics, and also accord with Kant's theories on the nature of concepts and their role in scientific explanation.



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Edward MacKinnon
California State University, Hayward

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