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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10
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8answers
1k views

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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7answers
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In ancient times, how did people conclude that the shape of Earth is a sphere?

This is more of a philosophical question, but I want a mathematical explanation. During ancient times, it was well accepted that the surface of Earth was spherical. People first observed this when ...
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3answers
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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 ...
6
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1answer
201 views

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 ...
4
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0answers
137 views

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 ...
18
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4answers
2k 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 ...
4
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2answers
955 views

History of the term innovation and its difference with invention?

Today, research and science is often associated to innovation (particularly by governments and funding agencies). I would like to understand how we got here and when the use of innovation as a ...
2
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2answers
90 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 ...
6
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2answers
2k 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
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1answer
87 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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0answers
40 views

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 ...
1
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1answer
112 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 ...
3
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0answers
65 views

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 ...
7
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1answer
2k 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 ...
6
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3answers
314 views

Nowadays I see a distinct “line” dividing people working in Mathematics and the Physical Sciences. Why?

The direction in which leading research is heading in these subjects (Math, Physics) is very much different and don't seem to be in tandem. Is this something that developed in more recent times? This ...
3
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2answers
228 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, ...
0
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2answers
112 views

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 ...
4
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2answers
263 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 ...
4
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1answer
72 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 ...
2
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0answers
93 views

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)...
3
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1answer
151 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 (...
13
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4answers
298 views

Why did Newton want lines to be generated by continued motion of points rather than by apposition of parts?

The following passage has been extracted from the Newton's (John Stewart's English translated version) "Sir Issac Newton's two Treatises: Of the Quadrature of Curves, and Analysis by equations of an ...
3
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2answers
132 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, ...
2
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1answer
174 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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0answers
35 views

Science about population interaction with ecosystems?

I am curious in the lack of scientific field/perceived research of ecosystems and their developments, or maybe I never encountered it. Is there any such field, investigating ecosystems "start" to end ...
3
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1answer
102 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 ...
2
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2answers
140 views

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 ...
42
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4answers
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Was Occam’s razor ever wrong?

In brief, I am looking for an example where Occam’s razor favoured a theory A over another theory B, but theory B turned out to be a better description of reality later. But let me formulate some ...
0
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1answer
62 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 ...
5
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2answers
218 views

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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0answers
67 views

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 ...
0
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1answer
61 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 ...
2
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1answer
117 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 ...
3
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0answers
286 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 ...
6
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4answers
245 views

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 ...
5
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3answers
204 views

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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0answers
33 views

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 ...
4
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1answer
207 views

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 ...
4
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2answers
129 views

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 ...
13
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2answers
7k views

What is the origin of polynomials and notation for them?

This may be quite a broad question, but lately I've been wondering about the history behind polynomials. Nowadays these are pretty much the simplest kind of functions to work with, but I'd like to ...
7
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4answers
269 views

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 ...
1
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1answer
98 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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4answers
972 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.
7
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1answer
358 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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1answer
57 views

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 ...
19
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1answer
2k views

Examples of Kuhn loss?

A Kuhn loss is: a success, empirical or theoretical, of a prior theory – or paradigm as Kuhn would have preferred – that does not carry over to the theory or paradigm that replaced it. [Midwinter ...
9
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1answer
165 views

How was difference in water pressure perceived in ancient cultures or the middle ages?

I recently wondered: Even when diving to just 2-3 meters without any modern equipment one can feel the change in pressure. Do we have any evidence how this was perceived and explained back in ancient ...
4
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1answer
179 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 ...
4
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1answer
149 views

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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0answers
65 views

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 ...