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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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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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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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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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296 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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83 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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155 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 ...
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Does Lakatos' argument in favour of 'informal mathematics' hold up in most cases?

Lakatos, in his Proofs and Refutations, rejects the Euclidean methodology and exposition of mathematics: where axioms and definitions precede the proofs. In other words, a Euclidean mathematician ...
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Gentzen and computer science

This is a cross-post from mathstack: https://math.stackexchange.com/questions/2584003/gentzen-and-computer-science?noredirect=1#comment5333947_2584003 I would like to learn a bit about the ...
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Are there any undergraduate research/internship opportunities in math/science education/history?

(Apologies if this isn't the right place for such a post. I see lots of information out there for math/science students wanting to do research, but haven't seen anything about doing things on the "...
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Canonical examples of successful scientists giving detailed advice about doing science/mathematics?

I've read this long transcript of a speech given by Richard Hamming: http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~robins/YouAndYourResearch.html It was an amazingly good speech in my view, and extremely interesting. ...
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Why was modern science and mathematics a European phenomenon?

Of course much of this can be debated on what you mean by the word “modern” But most of us would agree that the Arabic World and places like India were the leading mathematical and ...
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148 views

Books on scientific method for laymen

Could anyone recommend books that introduce to a layman science and its method/spirit? In particular, it should talk about what is science, what is the scientific method and why it works. After ...
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118 views

Does the word 'science' mean what's been found so far, or the way that human discovers unknown?

I'm writing a piece of paper and trying to understand, the meaning of word 'science' in the context of history. I'm not a native English speaker and I know I could look up in the dictionary, but my ...
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Did Turing ever mention Protagoras regarding the Imitation Game?

Based on the period when Turing went to school, it is fairly inconceivable he was not well familiar with Protagoras, and the statement that: "Man is the measure of all things" *I asked a question ...
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To constructivists, is “mind” more than a convenient synonym for “algorithm”?

I could give (but, not being a professional historian, nor a native Dutch speaker, only few) references and background-remarks, but I will keep this short, to make more use of what a Q&A-sites ...
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Did Karl Popper argue against Bayesian inference?

I am somewhat familiar with the works of Karl Popper and his opposition to using past data to induce prospects of future events, however disclaimed as uncertain, AKA historicism. He contributed to ...
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258 views

“Tension” between Electromagnetism and Newton's laws

When talking about the inconsistencies in physics that led up to Einstein's discovery of relativity today's professors always say that Maxwell's discovery of the constant speed of light $c$ created a ...
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725 views

What's the origin of the concept of the five senses?

It is commonly said (to children) that we have five senses: taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing. The term "sixth sense" refers to something supernatural. But we do have more senses. Balance, for ...
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197 views

Has mathematicians read/reacted to speculative realism, specifically to philosophy of Quentin Meillassoux? [closed]

There has been a recent uprise in philosophy (and it seems to me to be a very popular topic there), which is called Speculative Realism or Object-Oriented Ontology. One of the founding texts there is ...
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540 views

Who is the philosopher Feynman cites as saying that existence of science requires the same conditions to produce the same results?

In part 6 of his lecture series "Character of Physical Law", Richard Feynman remarks: A philosopher once said, "It is necessary for the very existence of science that the same conditions always ...
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Carnap's last theory Of probability

According to Bar-Hillel, Carnap's coauthor in a 1952 report on probability, Carnap had, as of 1956 an unpublished but circulated theory distinguishing "random" refers to methods of production of ...
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64 views

How important were serendipitous scientific discoveries (objectively)?

I'm interested in examining the efficiency of the scientific process. Part of this involves examining what actually goes into making a discovery. One common objection is: Half of all important ...
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135 views

Were there any famous Asian philosophers who were also mathematicians?

New here, had a question: Were there any famous Asian philosophers who were also mathematicians? Happy Xmas!
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339 views

Why is pure mathematics important? More generally, why do some scientists deal with inaplicable notions?

I am a freshman, mathematics. I have a presentation assignment for a class. I am expected to talk about the necessity of abstract sciences. The thesis I need to argue is the following: ''Some people ...
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What was the major influence of Francis Bacon on the development of modern science?

I am reading "Advice for young investigators" by Santiago Ramón y Cajal , in which the author suggested Francis Bacon had made no impact on the scientific development*: "It would not be wise in ...
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What did it historically mean in physics for something to “exist”?

What is the history of influential definitions of objective existence --- This Is Real, It Exists --- in physics? Where did they appear in the literature and in what context were they put forward? ...
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Was Joseph Priestley describing fundamental interactions in the 18th century?

In 1777, Joseph Priestley wrote a book called Disquisitions relating to Matter and Spirit, in which he says: It is maintained in this treatise, that neither matter nor spirit (meaning by the latter ...
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Did Gödel consider himself primarily a philosopher who is interested in mathematics (instead of the other way round)?

Kurt Gödel is one of the "best" logicians of the 20th century. Here, the user "Jeffrey Kegler" states that: Kurt Gödel considered himself a philosopher who did mathematics, rather than as a ...
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Who was the first scientist to suggest that objects can keep moving without applied force?

In the old days Aristotels argued that object needs a force to keep going in 'space'. Some philosophers, Philoponus and Buridanus (?), later argued that there was a need for some kind of 'impetus'. ...
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Hidden agenda of the Galileo trial?

Redondi argued that Galileo's trial on heliocentrism was merely a show trial concealing the real objection against Galileo among the catholic establishment, which was his atomism thought to be at ...
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Are there fields of science that became more successful after becoming less clearly understood?

In machine learning, people have been more and more letting go of the idea that they should understand how a particular algorithm works, and accepting it on the basis that it "just works". Are there ...
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182 views

Debate between relationship of philosophy of mathematics and physics

Did there exist and does there still exist a debate over which school of mathematical thought (i.e. formalism, logicism, intuitionism, etc.) had the most affinity or application for physics? In ...
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61 views

Was interpretivism always considered scientific by part of the people?

I always was amazed by how disciplines which can give very different grades of accuracy (exact sciences in contrast to others which fails in its predictions more times than they are successful) can ...
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What are the earliest known accounts of the demarcation problem (science versus pseudo science)?

The demarcation problem, i.e. the problem of differentiating science from pseudo science has been on my mind recently. This might be considered a philosophy topic for philoSE but since my question has ...
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Galileo's pendulum and any references

In some texts about the simple pendulum we use to see references about some "experiments" Galileo Galilei did realize and whereby he found some important results, including that the period of the ...
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66 views

Cauchy's real line and math philosophy till XIX

I have to write an essay concerning philosophy of mathematics until the end of XIX century. I've heard that the reason why the Cauchy's theorem (if continuous functions $fn→f$ then $f$ is continuous ...
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Where did the idea of modularization come from?

I have a wild guess that science flew when we started to take the concepts, fragment it and examine it piece by piece, fragmenting it again when needed for a better understanding. It seems that this ...
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Is there an explicit description of Landis-Petrovskiĭ's mistake in their “solution” to Hilbert's 16th problem?

The second part of the Hilbert's 16th problem (determination of the upper bound on the number of limit cycles for two-dimensional polynomial vector fields of given degree), proposed in 1900, is still ...
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507 views

Who was the first to say “Shut up and calculate!”?

The best thing I could find on the internet was this apparently forgotten aricle from 12 years ago.
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Have humans gotten better at the methods of science over time? [closed]

Im currently reading the book A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, and as I'm reading about the history of many fields of science (e.g. paleontology, geology, astronomy, etc.) it seems ...