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Particles and Waves : Historical Essays in the Philosophy of Science - Peter Achinstein

Particles and Waves

Historical Essays in the Philosophy of Science

Paperback Published: 19th December 1990
ISBN: 9780195067552
Number Of Pages: 352

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This volume brings together eleven essays by the distinguished philosopher of science, Peter Achinstein. The unifying theme is the nature of the philosophical problems surrounding the postulation of unobservable entities such as light waves, molecules, and electrons. How, if at all, is it possible to confirm scientific hypotheses about "unobservables"? Achinstein examines this question as it arose in actual scientific practice in three nineteenth-century episodes: the debate between particle and wave theorists of light, Maxwell's kinetic theory of gases, and J.J. Thomson's discovery of the electron. The book contains three parts, each devoted to one of these topics, beginning with an essay presenting the historical background of the episode and an introduction to the philosophical issues. There is an illuminating evaluation of various scientific methodologies, including hypothetico-deductivism, inductivism, and the method of independent warrant which combines features of the first two. Achinstein assesses the philosophical validity of both nineteenth-century and modern answers to questions about unobservables, and presents and defends his own solutions.

Industry Reviews

"The Book of Evidence is ambitious in aim and thorough in detail: it seeks to show what is faulty about the major definitions of evidence that hale been on offer and develops a novel view that relates evidence to explanation and realism. This book has a rare combination of analytical clarity and historical sensibility and could only have been written by someone who has been thinking about these issues for several decades."--SIS "Clearly written and persuasively argued....The conception of scientific method that emerges from this excellent study...is a much more subtle, varied, and complex one than usually depicted....This work should prove to be a landmark in the continuing study of the evolution of scientific methodologies."--Review of Metaphysics "A first-rate contribution to the history of nineteenth-century physics. . . . breaks new ground . . . will prove to be an important source of new information. Further, physicists NEED to read this book." --Foundations of Physics "It is valuable to have all the essays in one volume and especially valuable to have the introductory essays to tie the others together....A welcome addition to the literature; recommended for all college libraries."--Choice "A thoughtful consideration of a broad range of factors affecting rational credibility....Informative and thought-provoking....The book is one which any student of the logic of science would find well worth reading."--The Modern Schoolman "A terrific book. Rarely has such outstanding history of science been coupled with such subtle and penetrating philosophical analysis....Instead of the usual arm-waving argumentation one associates with historical work in philosophy of science, Particles and Waves deploys the analytical rigor Achinstein is justly famous for. Out of that examination emerges Achinstein's carefully worked-out replacement analysis. Judged against the recent spate of very good historico-philosophical arguments, Achinstein's book stands out as making the most penetrating and profound philosophical contributions."--Frederick Suppe, University of Maryland "Clearly written and persuasively argued....The conception of scientific method that emerges from this excellent study...is a much more subtle, varied, and complex one than usually depicted....This work should prove to be a landmark in the continuing study of the evolution of scientific methodologies."--Review of Metaphysics "A first-rate contribution to the history of nineteenth-century physics. . . . breaks new ground . . . will prove to be an important source of new information. Further, physicists NEED to read this book." --Foundations of Physics "It is valuable to have all the essays in one volume and especially valuable to have the introductory essays to tie the others together....A welcome addition to the literature; recommended for all college libraries."--Choice "A thoughtful consideration of a broad range of factors affecting rational credibility....Informative and thought-provoking....The book is one which any student of the logic of science would find well worth reading."--The Modern Schoolman "A terrific book. Rarely has such outstanding history of science been coupled with such subtle and penetrating philosophical analysis....Instead of the usual arm-waving argumentation one associates with historical work in philosophy of science, Particles and Waves deploys the analytical rigor Achinstein is justly famous for. Out of that examination emerges Achinstein's carefully worked-out replacement analysis. Judged against the recent spate of very good historico-philosophical arguments, Achinstein's book stands out as making the most penetrating and profound philosophical contributions."--Frederick Suppe, University of Maryland "A thoughtful, interpretive reading of several important episodes in the history of physics." --Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences "A valuable treatment of the method of hypothesis by a leading philosopher of science who is responsive to historical problems." --Mathematical Reviews "[Achinstein] is sensible to issues in the history of methodology, and his book would not be out of place on the reading list of (an honors level) course on that subject. Although most of the essays have already been published elsewhere, they hang together well and Achinstein has provided good instructions to each part. I wish all collections were as thoughtful as this one." --Metascience

General Introductionp. 3
Theories of Light: Particles versus Waves
Introductionp. 13
Newton's Corpuscular Query and Experimental Philosophyp. 31
Light Hypothesesp. 69
Hypotheses, Probability, and Wavesp. 117
Maxwell and the Kinetic Theory of Gases
Introductionp. 151
Theoretical Derivationsp. 165
Maxwell's Analogies and Kinetic Theoryp. 207
Scientific Discovery and Maxwell's Kinetic Theoryp. 233
The Only Game in Townp. 259
Cathode Rays and the Electron
Introductionp. 281
Theory, Experiment, and Cathode Raysp. 299
Indexp. 335
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195067552
ISBN-10: 019506755X
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 352
Published: 19th December 1990
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.37 x 15.57  x 2.46
Weight (kg): 0.51

Earn 299 Qantas Points
on this Book