Brian Hepburn


Center for Science Studies, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Aarhus University)

Euler gets an 'F' in philosophy — but which 'F'?

Euler was one of the most important physicists in that science's history. Yet, at many places in his writings, he seems to make very rudimentary philosophical mistakes. He commits the fallacy of composition, constructs straw-men refutations of Wolffian metaphysics by ignoring key but straightforward distinctions, and gives invalid arguments (not merely unsound) for `necessary' conclusions. It therefore appears he made fundamental contributions to physics while being fundamentally confused about the relevant philosophy of his time.