20 Sept. 2019 — 12:00 noon — WAG 316

Katherine Dunlop (UT) 

“Kant’s Newtonian Conception of the Essence of Matter”

In Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science (1786), his most important work on physical theory, Immanuel Kant argues that attractive force is essential to matter. Several recent interpreters hold that this doctrine is intended to supply a metaphysical ground for physical laws. Against this trend, I defend Michael Friedman’s reading of the passage, according to which Kant is making the point that gravity acts immediately at a distance. I compare Kant’s discussion of the need to posit attractive force with Newton’s argument in Book III of Principia Mathematica.


Katherine Dunlop is an Associate Professor in the UT Department of Philosophy. She works on early modern conceptions of mathematical and scientific knowledge.