By Peter Achinstein
A set of essays by means of the medical thinker Peter Achinstein, representing the end result of his exam of methodological concerns coming up from nineteenth century physics. He specializes in philosophical difficulties surrounding the postulation of unobservable entities equivalent to gentle waves.
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Extra resources for Particles and waves: historical essays in the philosophy of science
If we are to take seriously Newton's remarks at the end of the Principia, they have no place in empirical science. Yet clearly Newton does propose and consider them in the Opticks. Is he violating his own methodology in doing so? Obviously he is if one focuses only on his dictum that hypotheses have no place in experimental philosophy. In the queries, and indeed in other parts of his writings, Newton considers various propositions that are not deduced from the phenomena. , that the center of the system of the world is immovable—Book III, p.
According to Fresnel it consists of mutually repelling molecules of material points that fill space and that satisfy Newtonian mechanics. By the 1830s, as a result of Fresnel's work, the wave theory was much more widely accepted. During this period two major review articles appeared. The first, a 246-page article by John Herschel,19 was completed in 1827. Herschel presents detailed mathematical treatments of the wave and particle theories of light. He admits that "neither the corpuscular nor the undulatory, nor any other system which has yet been devised, will furnish that complete and satisfactory explanation of all the phenomena of light which is desirable" (p.
3-58; see p. 12. It is in conflict with interpretations of Mandelbaum (op. , p. 62) and McMullin (op. , p. 15), both of whom construe Rule 3 as an inductive rule that permits inferences from the observed to the unobservable. I take the latter position in what follows. Newton does not explicitly say that inductions are restricted to the observable. And, as noted earlier, he does use the term "induction" in referring to the sorts of inferences he illustrates in Rule 3. " 19. Rule 4: In experimental philosophy we are to look upon propositions inferred by general induction from phenomena as accurately or very nearly true, notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses that may be imagined, till such time as other phenomena occur by which they may either be made more accurate or liable to exceptions.
Particles and waves: historical essays in the philosophy of science by Peter Achinstein