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Integrated History and Philosophy of Science: First Conference

11–14 October, 2007

Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, USA


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Now showing 1 - 19 of 19
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    Integrative Pragmatism and Scientific Inquiry
    (2007) Melinda Fagan; mel.fagan@utah.edu; Hasok Chang
    In this paper, I propose a new way to integrate historical accounts of social interaction in scientific practice with philosophical examination of scientific knowledge. The relation between descriptive accounts of scientific practice, on the one hand, and normative accounts of scientific knowledge, on the other, is a vexed one. This vexatiousness is one instance of the gap between normative and descriptive domains. The general problem of the normative/descriptive divide takes striking and problematic form in the case of social aspects of scientific knowledge. With respect to this issue, history and philosophy of science appear starkly incompatible. I show how this dualism can be overcome, drawing on social action theory and the recent history of cellular immunology.
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    Einstein's Miraculous Argument
    (2007) John Norton; jdnorton@pitt.edu; Michela Massimi
    The use of the material theory of induction to vindicate a scientist's claims of evidential warrant is illustrated with the cases of Einstein's thermodynamic argument for light quanta of 1905 and his recovery of the anomalous motion of Mercury from general relativity in 1915. In a survey of other accounts of inductive inference applied to these examples, I show that, if it is to succeed, each account must presume the same material facts as the material theory and, in addition, some general principle of inductive inference not invoked by the material theory. Hence these principles are superfluous and the material theory superior in being more parsimonious.
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    Integrating History and Philosophy of Science: The Case of Isaac Newton
    (2007) Andrew Janiak; janiak@duke.edu; Alan Shapiro
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    Hidden Entities and Experimental Practice: Towards a Two-way Traffic Between History and Philosophy of Science
    (2007) Theodore Arabatzis; tarabatz@phs.uoa.gr; Hasok Chang
    In this paper I investigate the prospects of integrated history and philosophy of science, by examining how philosophical issues concerning experimental practice and scientific realism can enrich the historical investigation of the careers of "hidden entities", entities that are not accessible to unmediated observation. Conversely, I suggest that the history of those entities has important lessons to teach to the philosophy of science. My overall aim is to illustrate the possibility of a fruitful two-way traffic between history and philosophy of science.
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    Measurement and Limits in the Principia, Section X
    (2007) Chris Smeenk; George Smith; csmeenk2@uwo.ca; Alan Shapiro
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    Atom's Empirical Eve: Methodological Disputes and How to Evaluate Them
    (2007) Peter Achinstein; peter.achinstein@jhu.edu; Michela Massimi
    This paper examines the debate in the late 19th and early 20th centuries over the acceptability of atomic and molecular physics. It focuses on three prominent figures: Maxwell, who defended atomic physics, Ostwald, who initially rejected it but changed his mind as a result of experiments by Thomson and Perrin, and Duhem, who never accepted it. Each scientist defended the position he did in the light of strongly held methodological views concerning empirical evidence. The paper critically evaluates each of these methodological positions.
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    A Case Study in the Philosophy of Scientific Experimentation: Electron-Proton Inelastic Scattering Program in High Energy Particle Physics
    (2007) Koray Karaca; k.karaca@utwente.nl; Bill Newman and Jutta Schickore
    In this paper, I address the issue of to what extent the theory-dominated view of scientific experimentation describes scientific practice. I rely on a time period from the history of High Energy Physics (HEP), which spans from early 1960s to early 1970s. I argue that theory-ladenness of experimentation (TLE), which grounds theory-dominated conception of experimentation is too coarse-grained inasmuch as it prevents us from seeing the correct relationship that exists between theorizing and experimenting in the scientific practice of HEP. I articulate that in order to be able to get a better understanding of scientific practice, a revision needs to be made in the general conception of TLE. I propose that such a revision is possible if we abandon the commitment that experimentation is always driven by theory. I consider what I call “theory-drivenness” of experimentation (TDE) as a form of theory-ladenness, which amounts to the claim that experiments, from their initial design up to their final stage, are carried out under the framework of a prevailing theory for the purpose of providing definite answers to specific questions already posed by the same theory. I argue that electron-proton inelastic scattering experiments in HEP were firstly carried out without having any recourse to a phenomenological model. From here, I claim that these experiments are not theory-laden in the sense implied by TDE. On the other hand, I argue, inelastic scattering experiments are theory-laden due to the fact that the scientists who perform them are committed to background theories of HEP. That is, I admit the validity of TLE as a philosophical claim, but I attribute a weaker status to it as opposed to its general conception. That is, I propose to differentiate TDE from TLE by claiming that TLE does not entail TDE.
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    Galileo Now and Then
    (2007) William R. Shea; williamshea37@gmail.com
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    Newton 's Experimentum Crucis vs. Goethe's Series of Experiments: Implications for the Underdetermination Thesis
    (2007) James Marcum; James_Marcum@baylor.edu; Bill Newman and Jutta Schickore
    In the seventeenth century, Newton published his famous experimentum crucis, in which he claimed that light is heterogeneous and is composed of (colored) rays with different refrangibilities. Experiments, especially a crucial experiment, were important for justifying Newton’s theory of light, and eventually his theory of color. Goethe conducted a series of experiments on the nature of color, especially in contradistinction to Newton, and he defended his research with a methodological principle formulated in “Der Versuch als Vermittler.” Goethe’s principle included a series of experiments and resultant higher empirical evidence as mediator between the objective (natural phenomena) and the subjective (theory or hypothesis). Although the notion of experimentum crucis became popular among scientists, even until today, in reconstructing experimental research and for justifying theories, especially for rhetorical purposes, I propose that Newton’s justification of his theory of light and color is best reconstructed in terms of Goethe’s methodological principle. Finally, Goethe’s principle has important consequences for the contemporary philosophical underdetermination thesis.
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    Genres of Justification
    (2007) Jutta Schickore; jschicko@indiana.edu
    This article identifies a fundamental distinction in scientific practice: the mismatch between what scientists do and what they state they did when they communicate their findings in their publications. The insight that such a mismatch exists is not new. It was already implied in Hans Reichenbach’s distinction between the contexts of discovery and justification, and it is taken for granted across the board in philosophy of science and science studies. But while there is general agreement that the mismatch exists, the epistemological implications of that mismatch are not at all clear. Philosophers, historians, and sociologists of different stripes have expressed widely different views about how one should understand and interpret the relation between what scientists do and what they state they did. This article surveys a number of approaches to the mismatch. Based on this survey, I offer an assessment of the epistemological significance of the mismatch and identify the major meta?epistemological challenges that it poses for the analysis of scientific practice
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    Experimental History of Science: Galileo's Experiments with Pendulums
    (2007) Paolo Palmieri; pap7@pitt.edu; Bill Newman and Jutta Schickore
    To explore Galileo’s innovative methodology, I have repeated most of his path-breaking experiments with pendulums; I have investigated the robustness of pendulum effects, otherwise difficult to capture, with computer simulations; and I have repeated crucial calculations done by Galileo. In this paper, I will relate the discoveries that I made, and emphasize their significance for our understanding of Galileo’s innovative methodology.
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    The Law of the Lever According to Mach: Historically and Critically Presented
    (2007) Giora Hon; Bernard R. Goldstein; hon@research.haifa.ac.il
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    The Discovery of Argon: A Case for Error-Statistical Reasoning
    (2007) Aris Spanos; aris@vt.edu
    Rayleigh and Ramsay discovered the inert gas argon in the atmospheric air in 1895 using a carefully designed sequence of experiments guided by an informal statistical analysis of the resulting data. The primary objective of this article is to revisit this remarkable historical episode in order to make a case that the error?statistical perspective can be used to bring out and systematize (not to reconstruct) these scientists' resourceful ways and strategies for detecting and eliminating error, as well as dealing with Duhemian ambiguities and underdetermination problems as they arose in the context of their local research settings.
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    Chemistry: An Ontology-Free Science?
    (2007) Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent; bernadette.bensaude@u-paris10.fr
    It is often assumed that chemistry was a typical positivistic science as long as chemists used atomic and molecular models as mere fictions and denied any concern with their real existence. Even when they use notions such as molecular orbitals chemists do not reify them and often claim that they are mere models or instrumental artefacts. However a glimpse on the history of chemistry in the longue durée suggests that such denials of the ontological status of chemical entities do not testify for any specific allegiance of chemists to positivism. Rather it suggests that the dilemma positivism vs realism is inappropriate for characterizing the ontology of chemistry. This alternative shaped at the turn of the twentieth century in the context of controversies about atomic physics does not take into account the major concern of chemists, i.e. making up things. Only by considering what matters for chemists, their matters of concern rather than their matter theories, can we expect to get an insight on their ontological assumptions. The argumentation based on historical data is twofold. Generating new substances out of initial ingredients which is the raison d’être of chemistry raised a vexing puzzle which has been alternatively solved with the Aristotelian notion of mixt and the Lavoisieran notion of compound. I will argue that an essential tension remains intrinsic in chemistry between the two conceptual frameworks. But how are we to make sense of the long tradition of ontological non-commitment in chemistry? I argue that what is usually considered as a denial of the existence of the basic units of matter is better characterized as a focus on more important actors on the chemical stage.
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    The God of Geometry, The God of Matter: The Connection Between Descarte's Math and Metaphysics
    (2007) Mary Domski; mdomski@unm.edu
    Building on the work of Henk Bos and John Schuster, I will examine how the story of Descartes-the-philosopher and Descartes-the-mathematician proceeds in the years immediately following 1628. Specifically, I will focus on the 1633 Le Monde and the 1637 Geometry and hope to show that Descartes is still trying in this period to integrate his distinctively Cartesian version of math with his distinctively Cartesian version of philosophy. Being even more specific, I will look at the creation story presented in Le Monde in conjunction with Descartes’ solution to the Pappus problem, which was published in the Geometry. On the reading I’ll offer, we find both a mathematical influence on the early metaphysics in Le Monde as well as (and this is the heart of my account) a metaphysical grounding for one very important part of the mathematical program that Descartes presents in the Geometry.
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    Length Matters: The Einstein-Swann Correspondence and the Constructive Approach to Special Relativity
    (2007) Amit Hagar; hagara@indiana.edu
    I discuss a rarely mentioned correspondence between Einstein and Swann on the constructive approach to the special theory of relativity, in which Einstein points out that the attempts to construct a dynamical explanation of relativistic kinematical effects require postulating a fundamental length scale in the level of the dynamics. I use this correspondence to shed light on several issues under dispute in current philosophy of spacetime that were highlighted recently in Harvey Brown's monograph Physical Relativity, namely, Einstein's view on the distinction between principle and constructive theories, and the consequences of pursuing the constructive approach in the context of spacetime theories.
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    History and Philosophy of Modern Epidemiology
    (2007) Hanne Andersen; hanne.andersen@si.au.dk
    Epidemiological studies of chronic diseases began around the mid-20th century. Contrary to the infectious disease epidemiology which had prevailed at the beginning of the 20th century and which had focused on single agents causing individual diseases, the chronic disease epidemiology which emerged at the end of Word War II was a much more complex enterprise that investigated a multiplicity of risk factors for each disease. Involved in the development of chronic disease epidemi-ology were therefore fundamental discussions on the notion of causality, especially the question when causal inferences could be justified. In this paper, I shall analyze the implicit normativity of these de-bates. First, I shall give a brief overview of the historical background on which chronic disease epi-demiology emerged and describe how the pioneer studies on smoking and lung cancer became icon of the major challenge that the emerging chronic disease epidemiology was facing: the impossibility of proving that statistical associations reflected causal relations. Next, I shall describe how the develop-ment from the monocausal enterprise of infectious disease epidemiology to the multicausal enterprise of chronic disease epidemiology gave rise to intense discussions of the possible criteria by which to establish causal relationships between a given factor and a particular disease. I shall show how the necessary and sufficient conditions expressed in the so-called Henle-Koch criteria that had proved useful for the 19th century investigations of infectious diseases remained an ideal, although clearly an unobtainable one. Thus, I shall show how 20th century chronic disease epidemiologists on the one hand were searching for a new set of general principles which would provide a logical framework for their investigations, but on the other hand admitted that they would have to accept something more "pragmatic". I shall analyze the various positions in this debate, arguing that the implacability of the debate was due to unrecognized normative issues. I shall argue that many insisted on a distinction between science and application that was untenable, but that due to this distinction the values in-volved in deciding whether or not to act on the basis of a hypothesis were rarely explicitly discussed and the decision therefore continued to appear as a matter of taste rather than the result of a cogent normative analysis.