&HPS2

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Integrated History and Philosophy of Science: Second Conference

12–15 March, 2009

John J. Reilly Center, University of Notre Dame, USA

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Now showing 1 - 20 of 29
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    Galileo's Refutation of the Speed-Distance Law of Fall Rehabilitated
    (2010) Bryan Roberts; John Norton; bwr6@pitt.edu and jdnorton@pitt.edu; Ed Grant
    Galileo's refutation of the speed-distance law of fall in his Two New Sciences is routinely dismissed as a moment of confused argumentation. We urge that Galileo's argument correctly identified why the speed-distance law is untenable, failing only in its very last step. Using an ingenious combination of scaling and self-similarity arguments, Galileo found correctly that bodies, falling from rest according to this law, fall all distances in equal times. What he failed to recognize in the last step is that this time is infinite, the result of an exponential dependence of distance on time. Instead, Galileo conflated it with the other motion that satisfies this ‘equal time’ property, instantaneous motion.
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    “Schwankungen” in Electroscopes and Microscopes. Vienna Indeterminism and its Evidences
    (2010) Michael Stoeltzner; stoeltzn@sc.edu; Katherine Brading
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    On the Reception of Descartes' Machine Psychology
    (2010) Gary Hatfield; hatfield@phil.upenn.edu; Bill Newman
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    Newton between history and philosophy: the case of space
    (2010) Andrew Janiak; janiak@duke.edu; Ed Grant
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    Theory of Comets, 1618-1627
    (2010) Roger Ariew; rariew@usf.edu; Ed Grant
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    Hilbert’s Method of Analogy: Signs and Axiomatics in Physics and Mathematics
    (2010) Lydia Patton; critique@vt.edu; Katherine Brading
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    Philosophy meets history in the discovery of weak neutral currents
    (2010) Samuel Schindler; samuel.schindler@css.au.dk; Noretta Koertge
    In this paper I try to shed some light on how one discerns a physical effect or phenomenon from experimental background ‘noise’. To this end I revisit the discovery of Weak Neutral Currents (WNC), which has been right at the centre of discussion of some of the most influential available literature on this issue. Bogen and Woodward (1988) have claimed that the phenomenon of WNC was inferred from the data without higher level physical theory explaining this phenomenon (here: the Weinberg-Salam model of electroweak interactions) being involved in this process. Mayo (1994, 1996), in a similar vein, holds that the discovery of WNC was made on the basis of some piecemeal statistical techniques—again without the Salam-Weinberg model (predicting and explaining WNC) being involved in the process. Both Bogen & Woodward and Mayo have tried to back up their claims by referring to the historical work about the discovery of WNC by Galison (1983, 1987). Galison’s presentation of the historical facts, which can be described as realist, has however been challenged by Pickering (1984, 1988, 1989), who has drawn sociological-relativist conclusions from this historical case. Pickering’s conclusions, in turn, have recently come under attack by Miller and Bullock (1994), who delivered a defence of Galison’s realist account. In this paper I consider all of these historical studies in order to evaluate the philosophical claims that have been made on the basis of them. I conclude that—contrary to Bogen & Woodward (1988) and Mayo (1994)—statistical methods and other experimental inference procedures from the “bottom-up” (i.e. from the data to the phenomena) were insufficient for discerning WNC from their background noise. I also challenge Galison’s notion of the “end of experiments” and shall take the wind out of the sail of Miller and Bullock’s attack on some of Pickering’s claims, whilst rejecting Pickering’s sociological-relativist conclusions. Instead, I claim that an epistemic warrant from the ‘top down’ in the form of a theoretical postulate of the Weinberg-Salam model was necessary for “ending the experiments”, i.e. for the acceptance of WNC as a genuine phenomenon in the scientific community.
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    Two Dogmas about Newton and Space
    (2009) Zvi Biener; zvi.biener@uc.edu
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    Pictures and Pedagogy: the role of diagrams in Feynman’s early lectures, 1949-50
    (2010) Ari Gross; ari.gross@utoronto.ca; Noretta Koertge
    This paper aims to give a substantive account of how Feynman used diagrams in the first lectures in which he explained his new approach to quantum electrodynamics. By critically examining unpublished lecture notes, Feynman's use and interpretation of both “Feynman diagrams” and other visual representations will be illuminated. This paper will discuss how the morphology of Feynman's early diagrams were determined by both highly contextual issues, which molded his images to local needs and particular physical characterizations, and an overarching common diagrammatic style, which facilitated Feynman's movement between different diagrams despite their divergent forms and significance.
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    Newton on the Structure and Parts of Space
    (2009) Edward Slowik; ESlowik@winona.edu
    This presentation will investigate the parts of space, and its relationship with metrical structure, in Newton’s natural philosophy. The historical background to Newton’s claims will form an important part of the investigation, in addition to an assessment of the recent articles by Nerlich, Huggett, Maudlin, DiSalle, Torretti, McGuire, and several others, on this subject. While various aspects of these previous contributions will prove informative, it will be argued that the underlying goals of Newton’s pronouncements on the parts of space, including their ontological implications for absolute and/or substantival space, have largely eluded prior analysis.
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    On the Rationality of Metaphysical Commitments in Immature Science
    (2009) Alex Klein; alexander.klein@csulb.edu
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    Philosophy of Science and its Influence on Scientific Practice: empiricism and realism in 19th century electrodynamics
    (2010) Curtis Forbes; curtis.forbes@utoronto.ca; Katherine Brading
    It has become apparent that the debate between scientific realists and constructive empiricists has come to a stalemate. Neither view can reasonably claim to be the most rational philosophy of science, exclusively capable of making sense of all scientific activities. On one prominent analysis of the situation, whether we accept a realist or an anti-realist account of science actually seems to depend on which values we antecedently accept, rather than our commitment to “rationality” per se. Accordingly, several philosophers have attempted to argue in favour of scientific realism or constructive empiricism by showing that one set of values is exclusively best, for anyone and everyone, and that the downstream choice of the philosophy of science which best serves those values is therefore best, for anyone and everyone. These efforts, however, seem to have failed. In response, I suggest that philosophers of science should suspend the effort to determine which philosophy of science is best for everyone, and instead begin investigating which philosophy of science is best for specific (groups of) people, with specific values, in specific contexts. I illustrate how this might be done by briefly sketching a single case study from the history of science, which seems to show that different philosophies of science are better at motivating different forms of scientific practice.
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    Experiment in John Herschel’s Philosophy of Science
    (2010) Aaron Cobb; acobb8@aum.edu; Katherine Brading
    John Herschel's discussion of hypotheses in the Preliminary Discourse on Natural Philosophy has generated questions concerning his commitment to the principle that hypothetical speculation is legitimate only if warranted by inductive evidence. While Herschel explicitly articulates an inductivist philosophy of science, he also asserts that "it matters little how [a hypothesis or theory] has been originally framed" when it can withstand extensive testing and empirical scrutiny. This evidence has convinced some that Herschel endorses an early form of hypothetico-deductivism. I aim to clarify this interpretive puzzle and adduce evidence in support of the inductivist interpretation of Herschel's philosophy of science by examining his published account of a series of experiments in the domain of electromagnetism.
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    Underdetermination or Why &HPS Makes a Difference
    (2009) Elise Crull; ecrull@ccny.cuny.edu
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    A (So-So) Novel No-Go: Heisenberg on Hidden Variables (1927-1935)
    (2009) Elise Crull; ecrull@ccny.cuny.edu
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    Quantum Gravity: History, Historiography, and Philosophy
    (2009) Dean Rickles; dean.rickles@sydney.edu.au
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    The Epistemic Value of Dalton's Theory of Atoms
    (2009) Samuel Schindler; samuel.schindler@css.au.dk
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    Getting Real: The Hypothesis of Organic Fossil Origins
    (2009) Kyle Standford; stanford@uci.edu
    In this paper I hope to at least begin to explore when this “problem of unconceived alternatives” does and does not pose a serious challenge to belief in the claims of our best theoretical science by considering an especially revealing biological example: the hypothesis that fossils are the remains of once-living organisms.