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Galileo's Interventionist Notion of "Cause"

From: Journal of the History of Ideas
Volume 67, Number 3, July 2006
pp. 443-464 | 10.1353/jhi.2006.0024


In this essay, I shall argue that Galileo introduced a new scientifically useful notion of causality. This new notion of causality was an interventionist notion, according to which causal relations can be discovered by actively exploring and manipulating natural processes. The presence of this conception can be seen from Galileo's explanation of floating bodies and his theory of the tides. I shall point to the similarity between Galileo's notion of "cause" and recent interventionist accounts of causation in the philosophy of science (especially James Woodward's).

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