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The methodology, metaphysical assumptions and ideals of rational conduct which underpin the natural sciences have long been of interest to philosophers. In the seventeenth century, the philosopher-scientist Rene Descartes used the science of geometry as a model of how best to conduct an inquiry. John Locke thought that by acting as a philosophical under-labourer to Newton he could discover how we come to know anything and how we learn truths about the fundamental structure of the world. As it became obvious that Newtonian mechanics was incredibly successful in producing verifiable predictions, Locke's strategy seemed to be the correct one to many thinkers. During the Enlightenment, many philosophers came to think that the proper application of scientific method would lead us to an understanding not ...

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