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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What did Quine say on paradox and physics?

I remember that Willard van Orman Quine wrote something to the effect that physics may be paradoxical, in similar ways as naive set theory is paradoxical. May someone help find the quote? Edit 1 - A ...
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From a Logical Point of View quote, 2nd and 1st editions

I have access to the quote The analogy between the myth of mathematics and the myth of physics is, in some additional and perhaps fortuitous ways, strikingly close. Consider, for example, the crisis ...
8 votes
2 answers
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What were the obstacles that made the discovery of calculus very late?

I wonder What were the obstacles that made the discovery of calculus very late ? Why the discovery of calculus took so long? I know that some of the ideas and techniques of calculus appeared in ...
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Which mathematical concepts do not have any obvious origin outside mathematics?

Some mathematical concepts, such as that of number and that of geometrical figure, presumably originate from pre-existing notions already used by at least some non-mathematicians. Others seem to have ...
10 votes
4 answers
13k views

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

The best thing I could find on the internet was this apparently forgotten article from 2004: N. David Mermin, Could Feynman have said this?, Physics Today 57 (5), 2004.
6 votes
1 answer
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Different models for the development of mathematics: Latin versus butterfly

Ian Hacking's 2014 book *Why is there philosophy of mathematics at all?", see here, contains many interesting ideas. One of the ideas is the dichotomy of two distinct models for the development ...
0 votes
1 answer
124 views

A summary of Major events in Pre-Modern Atomist Philosophy of Chemistry [closed]

When I started learning about Laws related to "constant proportions" and other hypothesis like "all matter is composed of smallest indivisible particles", I didn't notice it was ...
13 votes
8 answers
4k views

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 ...
7 votes
3 answers
372 views

Claims that fully formal proofs are impossible to write down

It is sometimes asserted that human-readable mathematical proofs that we construct and publish are just informal approximations to the gold standard, which is a completely formal proof in a formal ...
4 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
16 votes
2 answers
3k views

Did ancient Greek mathematicians consider numbers independently of geometry?

I am currently reading Oliver Bryne's edition of Euclid's Elements, and in The Elements many arithmetic propositions are proved geometrically, and it feels to me that numbers are always treated as ...
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141 views

Did Heisenberg say free will could arise from quantum probabilistic mechanics?

I see this view attributed to him a lot during Twitter debates but I never found the source for it does anyone know if Heisenberg actually held this view/suggested it?
11 votes
3 answers
361 views

Leibniz's stand on axioms and definitions

Recently, while discussing, a friend claimed that Leibniz was fond of proceeding axiomatically and from definitions, which I find hard to believe. My conception is that Leibniz was more interested in ...
1 vote
2 answers
201 views

In a survey of historical science has anyone studied the propensity of other departments to co-opt scientific terminology to further their own ideas?

For example, Albert Einstein complained that sociology departments across the quad were using his theory of relativity to advance the idea of "relativistic morality." The meaning of ...
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Have there ever been any schemes for the classification of experiments?

There have been several book classification schemes, for example: Dewey Decimal, Library of Congress, etc. Have there been any experiment classification schemes, i.e. sets of criteria by which to ...
31 votes
4 answers
4k views

Is the Scientific Method uniquely Western?

I'm studying High School Science teaching in Australia. In our Science curriculum there are "cross-curriculum" priorities "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures" and "Asia and ...
3 votes
1 answer
219 views

Did any "classical era" physicist foresee that a theory such as Quantum Mechanics is logically inescapable?

I am interested in knowing if in the era preceding the observations that lead to the advent of Quantum Mechanics, anyone foresaw logically that a theory such as Quantum Mechanics is in a sense, "...
10 votes
3 answers
760 views

Philosophy behind category theory

Category theory represented a huge change in the way the community thought about mathematics, leaving its the set theoretic nature behind and bringing up the importance of arrows between the objects ...
5 votes
2 answers
467 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 ...
0 votes
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140 views

When and why Cantor-Hume principle was universally adopted in set theory instead of Euclid's principle?

In this answer and the comments Joel David Hamkins talks about a conflict between Cantor-Hume principle and Euclid's principle. He writes: This principle [Cantor-Hume] is often defended as a ...
4 votes
1 answer
123 views

How the present technology influences the way history of science is done?

Heard recently about digital humanities as a new paradigm of inquiry into the history of mankind and other humanities. Is the historiography of science informed by technological advances that could ...
1 vote
1 answer
164 views

Book suggestions on Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics?

What are some books that talk about the origins of Lagrangian and Hamiltonian mechanics? I would like to dig deeper into the fundamental approach and the fundamentals of action and its principles.
2 votes
1 answer
353 views

How did Aristotle explain the motion of living things moving by themselves, and falling of objects, with his hypothesis of all motion needing a cause?

Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC), a pioneering, iconoclastic, and brilliant ancient Greek philosopher, made the observation in his writings that the long term stable state of objects is at rest, that ...
3 votes
0 answers
124 views

References on the role of diagrams in scientific advancement

A number of diagrammatic formulations have played an important role in the advancement of science. Some embody representations of physical phenomena, while others model mathematical or logical ideas ...
4 votes
4 answers
2k views

How were irrational numbers accepted by mathematicians?

What was behind accepting the existence of irrational numbers historically? Especially numbers that are not constructible on the real number line, say for example $\sqrt[3]{2}$. Was it a (somewhat) ...
1 vote
1 answer
192 views

Did Poincaré argue against defining terms before you proceed?

Can the following point of view be traced back to a particular publication by Poincaré? In Section 3.1 of Gravitation, by Misner, Thorne and Wheeler, the authors write: Here and elsewhere in science, ...
5 votes
2 answers
1k views

What was the full name of I. Bernard Cohen?

I've seen quite a few of the names I. Bernard Cohen in the history of science book. But I couldn't find what I. meant.
1 vote
1 answer
112 views

Paradigms in Newtonian physics around 1900

I am thinking about the change from Newtonian mechanics to quantum physics and relativity. I note that we have accepted the words "ultraviolet catastrophe" in connection with the situation ...
8 votes
2 answers
2k 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 ...
2 votes
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Misunderstanding of philosopher work by other philosopher in ancient time

Throughout history, we have had many philosophers pre-Socrates to Aristotle to Morden Era, Did in ancient times around 1 B.C.E to 5 A.D, be it, philosophers or Astronomers when quoting famous ...
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1 answer
158 views

Did thinkers we now regard as mathematicians call themselves philosophers prior to the 19th century?

Recently, a teacher of mine stated that, since the institutional division between philosophy and other fields of academic enquiry, especially the natural sciences, happened somewhere along the 19th ...
8 votes
2 answers
375 views

Has there been 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 ...
1 vote
0 answers
142 views

Presocratics from the view of mathematicians and physicists

I am interested in a book that has all the fragments of pre-socratics but the notes etc. in the translation are from a mathematician or physicist relating with how each point affected the evolution of ...
5 votes
1 answer
233 views

Relation between Bourbaki group and Vienna Circle

Background: I'm an undergraduate student in Mathematics and I study Mathematical Logic and Philosophy of Science in an undergraduate research project (here in Brazil, where I'm from, we call this kind ...
0 votes
4 answers
508 views

What are examples of theories in recent history of science and mathematics that were hold pretty long but turned out non-true?

The atomic theory was already present in ancient Greece. In the nineteenth century it was disputed only to return with a vengeance later on. Likewise the geocentric view was replaced by the helio ...
5 votes
1 answer
185 views

Have there been instances in physics where different scientists have interpreted the same data differently? [closed]

Have there been instances in physics where different scientists have interpreted the same data differently? If yes, can you please give me specific examples and explain why one interpretation was ...
3 votes
0 answers
143 views

Alleged quote by Habermas in original. "Science is the ideology of late capitalism." Where to find it?

M. Bunge in his book "Evaluating Philosophies" makes the following statement: Scientism has been explicitly opposed by dogmatists and obscurantists of all stripes, such as the neoliberal ...
5 votes
1 answer
256 views

Who said that math or statistics is not free from class interest?

I'm not 100% sure this is the right site for this question, but here it goes. An already dead professor said in a lecture that Stalin (or perhaps another communist leader) wrote once something along ...
1 vote
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Are there examples where interpretivist findings have been confirmed by (post-)positivist methodology?

Social sciences, especially sociology, embrace a distinction between interpretivism 1 and (post-)positivism 2. Some social scientist embrace one method over the other and some speak in favor of both. ...
1 vote
1 answer
201 views

Is there any book or site where John von Neumann's collected philosophical writings are presented?

I was wondering if von Neuman has any philosophical writings beside his writings on the relation of computers to the human mind and vice versa.
7 votes
3 answers
6k views

Why did Aristotle make mistakes in his laws of motion?

I was studying Aristotle's laws of motion and comparing them to Newton's. He states that heavier bodies fall faster than lighter ones. I really can't understand how he could have committed such a ...
4 votes
2 answers
203 views

What are the paradoxes of which Russell is talking about in the following?

I was reading Russell's An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth (1940) and I noted the following passage in the Introduction, Finally, there is the question of the relation between truth and knowledge. ...
4 votes
1 answer
298 views

After the invention of Boolean algebra, why did it take so long for the existential and universal quantifiers to become formalized into symbols?

Was there a specific reason that prevented researchers in Boolean algebra to invent such quantifiers in the flexible format that are known today earlier? Since the compact symbols for multiplication ...
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Is there any indication throughout history that technological progression will end?

Bernard Stiegler argued that technics was a form of memory and was always progressing. Yet, philosophy isn’t the right thing to rely on when dealing with science. Science doesn’t have a mind and ...
1 vote
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Need cases of *scientistic* fallacies in 19th century anthropological/ethnological studies of Native Americans

I'm looking for primary sources in which the author(s) commit scientistic fallacies when speaking about Native Americans. I'm working my way through S.G. Morton's Crania Americana, which is close, but ...
0 votes
1 answer
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In which units did Sir Isaac Newton define force at that time as SI system didn't existed then? [duplicate]

Sir Isaac Newton led the foundation of his famous laws of motion during the 17th Century but at that time SI system hadn't existed. So in which units did he define force? Did he define it in some ...
2 votes
1 answer
3k 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 ...
1 vote
1 answer
286 views

The status of Tarski's theory of truth

Tarski's truth theorem asserts that a truth definition for a (reasonably strong) theory cannot be formalized within that theory. I have seen that Tarski's theory of truth has received a lot of ...
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Should Occam's razor be used in judging hypothetical cosmological theories?

Should Occam's razor be used in making preference between cosmological theories, which in order to fit in new experimental results, introduce hypothetical concepts, such as dark matter and dark energy,...
6 votes
1 answer
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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 ...