Questions tagged [philosophy-of-science]

For questions about the branch of philosophy studying science, scientists, the scientific method and related topics.

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Origin of the Intelligence question?

What are the roots of the Intelligence question, i.e. since when do "humans" think about what "Intelligence" means and where it actually comes from? I did some digging in the greek ...
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Who was the first to state that scientific theories could be used to make predictions?

It seems to me that very few if any scientists/philosophers stated that science could be used for predictions before the early 1900s. In the scientific context I have only encountered the use of the ...
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On atomism and philosophy of science

The background of this question is as follows. Sean Carroll is in the process of giving a series of talks recorded in his home office and published on YouTube. The setup is intentionally very informal....
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Why is it that so many early astronomers and cosmologists wanted to believe in a static/infinite/eternal Universe?

I've been doing some research for a cosmology series and I'm struck by how many physicists and philosophers, from Newton to Einstein, had a notion that the Universe should be static and eternal. Why ...
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Did Galen make any theoretical contributions to the experimental science?

The wikipedia page about experimental research history cites Ibn al-Haytham as an early pioneer of experimental research. Since Galen was the last prominent ancient greek philosophers/doctor and ...
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When was the earliest usage of diagrams to represent set relations?

According to wikipedia Euler came up with Venn-like diagrams well before Venn but Lull and Leibnitz came up with pictorial representations of set relations even before that. Was Lull the first who is ...
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103 views

Which conception of a “machine” allows to call “mechanical” the new physics of the 17th century?

My questions deal more properly with pre-Newtonian modern physics in its Cartesian or Hobbesian versions. The word "mechanical" comes from a Greek word meaning "machine". However, the received ...
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Eventually impossible to contribute to science? [closed]

(Excuse me in advance if I've hereby launched a duplicate question, but so far I didn't came across any opinions.) In other words, I was wondering: Will scientific progress finally stall, because it ...
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What was Kolmogorov’s point of view in the philosophy of mathematics?

Today the standard interpretation of intuitionistic logic is the Brouwer-Heyting-Kolmogorov interpretation which was presented independently by Arend Heyting and Andrei Nikolajewitsch Kolmogorow. ...
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Did Lagrange make any noteworthy contribution to the philosophy of mathematics?

I saw a post here about Gauss' contribution to the philosophy of mathematics and I was wondering if Lagrange also made any known contribution to philosophy (of math).
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Alternatives to «Lost in math: how beauty leads physics astray» by Sabine Hossenfelder?

Recently, I came across this book «Lost in math» that aroused my interest. Having read about half of it, I have to admit that I am not a big fan of Mrs. Hossenfelder's informal popular style of ...
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Were Gauss's 1846 remarks on the distinction between right and left related to orientability of surfaces?

Recently i was striked by a quotation of Gauss from a letter to his student Gerling from the date June 23, 1846. This letter states in very concise words that the distinction between right-handed and ...
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What did Hans Bethe think of von Neumann's quantum logic?

Nobel laureate Hans Bethe was a friend of mathematician-physicist John von Neumann, and he once said: "I have sometimes wondered whether a brain like von Neumann's does not indicate a species ...
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382 views

Gauss on philosophers

Carl Friedrich Gauss said: When a philosopher says something that is true then it is trivial. When he says something that is not trivial then it is false. On one occasion I read that supposedly ...
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90 views

Differences between “The Science of” versus "The Art of? [closed]

Suppose you go to a book store and you see two books titled: The Science of Cooking The Art of Cooking Before opening the books, how would you expect them to ...
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When did it become a mainstream stereotype that physicists hate philosophy?

Question I'm searching for the origin of the stereotype (regardless of validity) that physicists hate philosophy? This opinion seems to be more mainstream in the public domain. I do concede they are ...
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Theory criteria from Misner-Thorne-Wheeler

In chapter 39.1 of Gravitation, by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler, it is asserted, quite reasonably, that a theory of gravitation (and, I assume, quite generally) must satisfy the three following criteria ...
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Does Heliocentrism predate Copernicus?

I have seen this mentioned on the interwebs a few times. people have mentioned that some Greek thinkers and Islamic astronomers came up with heliocentrism before Copernicus and that Copernicus copied ...
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When and how did the notion/idea of physical constant emerge?

Physical constants (e.g. c, h, G, alpha and so on) play a central role in our scientific theories and they have yet drawn much of controversial flavor into questions concerning the foundational status ...
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What are the principles of historiography of science?

Is there a consensus amongst historians as to the principles of the historiography of science or as to how to write/create/preserve/record history? If there is, then what are those principles? If ...
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182 views

Did Bohr comment on Bohm's interpretation of quantum mechanics?

Bohm published his interpretation of quantum mechanics in 1952. Comments on Bohm's work from Einstein, Heisenberg und Pauli are cited in the corresponding wikipedia article (https://en.wikipedia.org/...
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Does anyone know articles or books about what the notion of difficulty in science, especially physics?

In physics, many problems were known at their time to be very challenging, for example the notion of heat, or how to understand the ideal gaz law, or the phase transition criticial behaviors, etc. And ...
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146 views

Did the death of Archimedes mark the turning point of the golden age of Greek science [closed]

Western philosophy was founded by Socrates, and Greek science was blossomed by his students and descendants such as Plato, Aristotle, Euclid, Archimedes, and many others. It seemed that after the ...
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Is there a name for the idea that the limitations on the accuracy of a model depend on the point of view of the observer?

Consider a mouse who lives its whole life in a maze in a lab. If you asked the mouse about its understanding of the universe, it might say "it's 3 inches high and 3 inches wide, has two left turns and ...
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263 views

Did the Idea of Universal Gravitation predate Newton?

"Baba wrote over 60 books, almost everyone on a different topic, writing on issues from astronomy, identified stars that European scientists technology could not discover until the late 1800s, ...
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What experiments led to the sign of the electron's charge?

The famous Millikan's oil drop experiment in 1908 determined the magnitude of charge of the electron to be 1.59*10^(-19) C. However, it was well known that electron has a negative charge. Although ...
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Is it a historical coincidence that relative atomic weights by chemical methods and mass spectrometry are very close?

The concept of relative atomic weight originated from measuring the combining weight of hydrogen with a certain element. In the simplification process H was taken as unity (18th, 19th and 20th century)...
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893 views

Who associated the sharp, principal, diffuse, fundamental spectral terms with electron's momentum?

It is well documented that the notation for the electronic configuration (s,p,d,f) of atoms as used today originates from the words sharp, principal, diffuse, fundamental from alkali metal spectra (...
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503 views

How did the early chemists determine the atomic weight of hydrogen?

In early history, the relative atomic weight of hydrogen was assigned as 1 (exactly) and all other elements were compared against hydrogen. What is difficult to find who determined the absolute atomic ...
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234 views

Why is the problem of demarcation important in the history of science?

Historically, why has it been important to have a clear distinction between science and other forms of knowledge? The only thing I have come across so far is the debate between evolution and creation, ...
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365 views

How did the early chemists make a connection between gram formula weight with 1 mole and Avogadro's number?

According to one historian Mustafa Sarikaya's article in Foundations of Chemistry DOI 10.1007/s10698-011-9128-7, the mole concept was introduced to chemistry earlier than Avogadro’s number. The mole ...
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101 views

General Relativity, General Covariance and Equivalence Principle

Einstein realized that uniform acceleration is indistinguishable from a homogeneous gravitational field (the principle of equivalence) through the Einstein Elevator thought experiment. From the ...
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124 views

How close was Hooke to developing a comprehensive system of gravity?

Was Hooke close to developing a physical system of gravity on the same level as Newton. looking at Luka Trkanjec's post on Quora, he insists that Newton was quite overrated in this regard, and that ...
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If John Michell was more well known, would he rank above Isaac Newton in the history of science? [closed]

John Michell proposed black holes in the 18th century, hundreds of years before Schwarzschild and Einstein. His ideas were said to to be away head of his time, that he died in obscurity. I assume ...
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66 views

Real effects long thought to be coincidences

What examples are there of scientific effects or correlations that we now know to be real, and were known about for a long time but thought to be coincidences? To give an example of the kind of thing ...
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What is the origin of “normal” in normal coordinates and normal modes?

I am trying to understand why vibrational modes of polyatomic molecules are called "normal" mode of vibrations and with corresponding normal coordinates. What is the origin of the term normal here? I ...
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Example of: Two researchers working on the same question but get opposite conclusions [closed]

I wish to know about whether such example exists, could someone please help and tell me some stories about this? p.s: Also I wonder why such thing can happen. I wish the two main characters in the ...
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68 views

Who first came up with the idea that heavenly laws and earthly laws should be the same?

At least Newton realized that the motion of the Moon on the heaven and the motion of an apple on the earth are governed by the same law. But who first proposed that the same laws should hold ...
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211 views

Popper on Marx, Freud and Darwin

I've encountered the following claim: If we, as Popper apparantly did, view Marx and Freud's body of work as non-scientific because core tenets are not falsifiable and we apply the same rubic to ...
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historical examples of “pseudoscience” becoming “science”

What are some historical examples of theories/ideas that were initially labeled "pseudoscience" and later considered legitimate "science"? I don't mean theories or ideas that were initially not ...
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Why statistical moments are called moments?

According to the Jeff Miller's Earliest Known Uses of the Words of Mathematics "Moment was taken into Statistics from Mechanics by Karl Pearson when he treated the frequency-curve (or observation ...
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What are some good metrics for intellectual progress (of all sorts)?

My thinking about this topic is vague, and I'm looking to clarify it. I'm not sure what "intellectual progress" is or if that's even a useful abstraction, but it seems like it should include things ...
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The Greeks did not discover “a single scientific law”

The title is drawn from a sentence in a Jim Holt article, "The Dangerous Idea of the Infinitesimal," now a chapter in his book collection.1 I found this a striking claim, and perhaps true, as the ...
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Can we identify Paul Benacerraf in these photos

This question is about Paul Benacerraf, who worked on the philosophy of mathematics, and wrote the 1965 essay What numbers could not be (see: Benacerraf's identification problem). He was at Princeton ...
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Reference Request: Books on the work of Imre Lakatos

What are the best works summarizing, discussing or criticizing the work of Imre Lakatos? What are the pros and cons of said works? Which would you recommend picking up first if one has read some but ...
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Mathematics PhD dissertations that opened a new field of research

I propose this as a companion wiki page to the one about PhD dissertations which contain a solution to an open problem in the style of big-list questions, thinking ...
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586 views

How did Wittgenstein fulfill eligibility requirements for a PhD in philosophy without having a Bachelor's degree in philosophy?

The Wikipedia article about Wittgenstein says: In Norway it was clear that Moore was expected to act as Wittgenstein's secretary, taking down his notes, with Wittgenstein falling into a rage when ...
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Suggestions for hosting a Scientific Salon of Paris in Émilie du Châtelet's time

My students just learned about Émilie du Châtelet's Salon with Voltaire in her husband's residence in Paris and in their country estates. I want to give them a homework assignment for extra credit of ...
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128 views

Who invented the term “Kuhn loss”?

This term has been discussed on this forum, e.g. under Examples of Kuhn loss?, and has been attributed to Kuhn himself. The term refers to the loss of explanations and predictions of the prior ...
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229 views

Who influenced Gauss in his abstract approach to mathematics?

I have studied that Gauss was one of the firsts mathematicians to defend this idea, about the Abstract Math and the conception of number, claiming that "What is calculated (in the sense of things ...