Perspectives on Science

Perspectives on Science
Volume 11, Number 2, Summer 2003


Contents

Articles

    Maglo, Kofi.
  • The Reception of Newton's Gravitational Theory by Huygens, Varignon, and Maupertuis: How Normal Science may be Revolutionary
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    Subject Headings:
    • Newton, Isaac, Sir, 1642-1727. Principia.
    • Gravitation.
    • Huygens, Christiaan, 1629-1695.
    • Varignon, Pierre, 1654-1722.
    • Maupertuis, 1698-1759.
    • Science -- History.
    Abstract:
      This paper first discusses the current historical and philosophical framework forged during the last century to account for both the history and the epistemic status of Newton's theory of general gravitation. It then examines the conflict surrounding this theory at the close of the seventeenth century and the first steps towards the revolutionary shift in rational mechanics in the eighteenth century. From a historical point of view, it shows the crucial contribution of the Cartesian mechanistic philosophy and Leibnizian analytic methods to the emergence of so-called Newtonian mechanics which can also be fairly characterized as a synthetic theory of attraction. From a philosophical standpoint, the paper suggests that the reworking of Newton's theory in the 18th century is better understood in a theoretical framework that reconciles Kuhn's notion of "invisible revolution" rather than his notion of "normal science" with Whewell's ascription of the completion of dynamical studies to the post Newtonian period.
    McDonald, Patrick Joseph.
  • Demonstration by Simulation: The Philosophical Significance of Experiment in Helmholtz's Theory of Perception
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    Subject Headings:
    • Helmholtz, Hermann von, 1821-1894 -- Contributions in perception.
    • Perception (Philosophy)
    • Science -- Experiments.
    • Science -- Philosophy.
    Abstract:
      Understanding Helmholtz's philosophy of science requires attention to his experimental practice. I sketch out such a project by showing how experiment shapes his theory of perception in three ways. One, the theory emerged out of empirical and experimental research. Two, the concept of experiment fills a critical conceptual gap in his theory of perception. Experiment functions not merely as a scientific technique, but also as a general epistemological strategy. Three, Helmholtz's experimental practice provides essential clues to the interpretation of his theory of perception. A case study from experimental investigation of hearing shows how he designed such studies in accordance with the epistemological commitments of the theory of perception. Yet, while the theory was important to his experiments, the soundness of the experimental strategy was epistemically independent of those commitments. Secondly, the case study illustrates how Helmholtz consistently held that causal inferences underwrite reference to a real, but indirectly experienced external world.
    Tsou, Jonathan Y.
  • Reconsidering Feyerabend's "Anarchism"
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    Subject Headings:
    • Feyerabend, Paul K., 1924- Against method.
    • Science -- Methodology.
    • Pluralism.
    • Science -- Philosophy.
    Abstract:
      This paper explores Paul Feyerabend's (1924-1994) skeptical arguments for "anarchism" in his early writings between 1960 to 1975. Feyerabend's position is encapsulated by his well-known suggestion that the only principle for scientific method that can be defended under all circumstances is: "anything goes." I present Feyerabend's anarchism as a recommendation for pluralism that assumes a realist view of scientific theories. The aims of this paper are threefold: (1) to present a defensible view of Feyerabend's anarchism and its motivations, (2) to articulate the minimal form of realism that such a view presupposes, and (3) to consider the implications and limitations of such a perspective in contemporary philosophy of science.

Essay Review

    Bauer, Henry H.
  • The Progress of Science and Implications for Science Studies and for Science Policy
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    Subject Headings:
    • Hook, Ernest B., 1936-, ed. Prematurity in scientific discovery.
    • Stephan, Paula E. Striking the mother lode in science.
    • Levin, Sharon G.
    • Ziman, J. M. (John M.), 1925- Prometheus bound.
    • Discoveries in science -- Congresses.
    • Scientists -- United States.



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