Moral Newtonianism

Unlike apothegms and tragedies, detective stories presume that a rational method exists. The genre believes in social science. It embodies the same set of assumptions that have led so many thinkers since the seventeenth century to assume that what Newton accomplished in astronomy will soon be accomplished with human beings. Governed by natural laws no less than any star or planet, we must be as knowable to rational investigators. “Moral Newtonianism,” as Elie Halévy famously called this assumption, is above all the belief in method guaranteeing answers.

Morson, Gary. The Long and Short of It: From Aphorism to Novel